Hospital volunteers get new uniform and new status

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is bolstering its links with its small army of volunteers by giving them a uniform which recognises the unique and important contribution that volunteers make in complementing the services it provides.
By: Corporate connection
Oct. 5, 2011 - PRLog -- Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is bolstering its links with its small army of volunteers by giving them a uniform which recognises the unique and important contribution that volunteers make in complementing the services it provides.

The UHB has around 400 volunteers who provide a wide range of support in a variety of areas. In recognition of their important role and to raise the profile of their volunteering the UHB has developed a Volunteer Strategy and Framework.

This strategy outlines the Health Board’s support and encouragement of the efforts of individual volunteers and voluntary organisations for the benefit of service users, their relatives and carers.

This is being achieved by raising the profile of volunteering within the Health Board and the community, one aspect of increasing the profile is the introduction of a unique volunteer brand. This will provide a clear identity for volunteers as individuals and as part of a team that recognises the value of their contribution, it will also ensure that volunteers are easily recognisable by the introduction of a uniform and identity badges.

Michelle Fowler, from the Health Board’s Volunteer Services, said “The new volunteer uniform gives the volunteer an identity which highlights they are part of a valued team and provides a sense of belonging."

Maria Lazarou, aged 20, from Barry, gave the new uniform a thumbs up and said she was glad to be playing her part.

“I just wanted to help," she said. "There’s lot to learn and it’s only a couple of hours a week and hopefully I can make a difference.”

Fellow volunteer Samantha Korak, aged 20, from Roath, Cardiff, has been volunteering with the health board for a year, helping in the eye clinic at University Hospital of Wales and on Elizabeth Ward at Cardiff Royal Infirmary, and would recommend volunteering to others.

The Swansea University student said: “I am looking for a career in medicine and it’s been a good experience to see how patients feel and understand them more. I have a few spare hours and so it is nice to give something back.I feel better as a person.”

The new strategy adopted by the Health Board hopes to expand on the work done by volunteers like Samantha and Maria. As well as new uniforms extra meet and greet schemes are planned as well as lunch club volunteers for stroke units and various volunteer garden projects.

The project will see the Health Board forge stronger ties with the voluntary sector and hopefully expand the number of those offering a helping hand.

Former AM Lorraine Barratt has been involved with the Volunteer Service to help to develop links with under represented groups and hard to reach communities, closely liaising with local representatives from these groups and organisations.

Speaking at the launch she said: “I am delighted to see so many young people here. For young people it can be a stepping stone but it’s also a chance to develop as individuals.

“We do get a lot of benefit from it ourselves. You do get a good feeling doing something for your common man.”

Health Board independent member Mutale Merrill, herself a volunteer of 20 years, welcomed the launch of the strategy and said she wanted to make people aware of the added value that volunteers brought to the health service.

Cardiff resident, Meg Powell, volunteered after retiring from teaching, and has been able to build strong relationships with the people she sees as a meet and greeter at UHW, and encourages others to give something back.

She said: “It is very different from teaching, but I come here for the joy of it and being able to help someone who is sick and maybe frail.'

Having volunteered in the hospital for 15 years she has built up quite a rapport with many of her patients and feels it helps for them to see the same welcoming face when they come to clinic.

“It’s just a joy to be able to help.” She said.

Mrs Fowler said that the volunteers were already doing excellent voluntary roles across the UHB’s sites and in the community but said that the new strategy would build on that success, as it recognises its responsibility to arrange it’s volunteering efficiently and sensitively so that the valuable gift of the volunteer’s time is best used to the mutual advantage of all concerned.

She said: “We will be setting up a Voluntary Service stakeholder’s event and also running Voluntary Services road-shows across various UHB sites raising awareness of volunteering and voluntary opportunities currently active within the UHB.”

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