Skip to content
Home > Staff and Recruitment > Volunteering > Volunteer Testimonies

Volunteer Testimonies

Find out what our amazing volunteers have to say about their experiences.

Anne Stewart and Anne Hepburn, Ward Volunteers, Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock 

Anne Stewart and Anne Hepburn are affectionately known as the ‘Two Annes’ on their ward at the Inverclyde Royal. Both worked in the NHS until retirement and have a strong connection with the hospital.

After a couple of years at the tea bar, Anne H was ready to take on another role and saw a local advertisement for Ward Volunteering opportunities in a local health centre. The Annes’ come as a pair and so the ward was lucky enough to get both volunteers together; they joined in January 2015 and have been regularly volunteering every Tuesday since.

Ward volunteering was a new initiative on this particular ward and the Annes’ have laid the foundations and firmly established volunteering on their ward. Anne H recalls that in the early days, “We did get a couple of folk asking what our role was, but as soon as we explained what we could and couldn’t help with, they were very welcoming.”

The main purpose of their role is a social one, in which they can spend time with patients who are isolated or who may not receive any visitors. 

However the volunteers also help out at mealtimes, providing verbal encouragement and support or helping patients with tasks such as cutting up their food, or de cluttering the tables so that patients can concentrate on their meal. The volunteers can also help ensure that the patients are hydrated, by filling up their water and can even make tea for the patients if they want a cup outwith the scheduled tea break.

Anne explains “We’re not able to administer food, but we can encourage people to try and eat a bit more and we remind them that they need to eat in order to get better.” The volunteers use a variety of approaches to encourage the patients to get the most out of their meal, gently prompting them to eat whilst their food is hot. On one occasion a patient said they did not feel like their soup; Anne H persuaded them to have a little, saying “ If you eat your soup, then you’re getting all your vegetables and vitamins, you’ll build yourself up to go home.”

The Annes’ get a lot of enjoyment from their role and feel that they are making a difference to the patients – they are a valued and integral part of the ward team and are even joining the staff on their Christmas night out!

Barbara, Community Tea Dance Volunteer, Glasgow City HSCP North East 

My name is Barbara I have been volunteering at the Barrowfield Tea Dance for almost 3 Years now.

I started off unofficially by helping clear up some of the cups after tea time and then became an official volunteer through the NHS.

I enjoy volunteering at the tea dance and feel I play an important role over the year. I have gradually taken on more responsibility, such as making sure everyone has signed in the register and supporting people with their Bingo and dancing. Sometimes I feel I act as middle man between staff and some of the group as they will come to me to talk as they are familiar with me as a local person and someone who has been there since the early days.

The part I enjoy most about working at the tea dance is chatting with the pensioners and building up a relationship with them. Volunteering at the tea dance has helped build up my confidence, I feel more confident about starting conversations with people I don’t know very well.

During my time at the tea dance I have seen a few staff changes so I am now one of the people who have been working there the longest so I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility to the tea dance. I love being a volunteer and I would recommend giving it a go.

Brian Laidlaw, Patient Information Centre, New Victoria Hospital

I’ve been a volunteer with the New Victoria Patient Information Centre for almost 2 years.

I am also one of the volunteer Queens Park Health Walk Leaders (there are now a total of six volunteer leaders).

I’ve been retired for just over 3 years and feel that one of the most positive steps I have taken is volunteering, however you do not need to be retired to be a volunteer!

As a volunteer I do a variety of tasks in the Patient Information Centre. This includes talking to patients/potential patients. This has helped me increase my people skills as well as my self confidence.

Amongst other things, I have enjoyed the training and meeting new people. The permanent staffs are friendly and extremely helpful. I also feel that volunteering has helped me keep physically and mentally fit.

I do believe that volunteering increases your self esteem and would encourage anyone who has the time and interest to volunteer.

Gio, Fishtank Maintenance/Conservation Volunteer, Gartnavel General Volunteer

My Name is Gio and I help maintain the fish tank at Gartnavel. I also help make the Gartnavel walled garden an even better place for patients, visitors and the local community.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy the task at hand and having a wee chat with the staff, if and when.

What is your main reasons for volunteering?

To keep me motivated.

Tell us about something you have felt proud of in your volunteering role?

Seeing the end result of job at hand.

Janette Gill, Welcomer/Guide, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

I’m currently based as a Welcomer/Guide Volunteer at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

I find it so rewarding, greeting and meeting visitors and patients as they enter the new Hospital. Just by putting people at ease, helping them check in on the new system for appointments or directing or accompany them to clinics, just gives you such a good feeling. You know you have made a difference, it’s so rewarding.

I have been told by patients the difference it has meant to them having assistance as they arrive for their appointments.

It’s so enjoyable and I work with a nice team of volunteers too! I’m so glad I applied to be a volunteer at the new Hospital it’s such a worthwhile pastime and one that I would recommend to others.

Jim Burns, Football Memories Volunteer

My name is Jim, and I help run the Football Memories Groups. 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Meeting new people and hopefully giving patients a bit of enjoyment

What is your main reasons for volunteering?

Try and get patients to recall from their memory banks, what they can recall about football from days gone by

Tell us about something you have felt proud of in your volunteering role?

Having people thanking me for an hour well spent

Kyra Kane, Ward 1, Larkfield Unit, Inverclyde Hospital

I currently volunteer at Ward 1 at Larkfield Unit, Inverclyde Royal Hospital.

My role is to visit many of the elderly patients and talk to them about anything they like. This creates a distraction for them as they could be upset or worried or depressed about the situation they are in.

I also help out with meals whether it’s encouraging them to eat (as many patients lose their appetite while being in hospital) or helping them cut up their food. I thoroughly enjoy my role at Ward 1 as it is lovely being able to help a person that isn’t going through a good time in their lives.

Although some patients will not remember you, there are a few that will. As many patients don’t receive visitors, it is a pleasant surprise for them to find someone there to see them and it can really brighten up their day.

A sense of fulfilment comes from this role as, you can really see a difference in a patient from just a small conversation, they really take it to heart and are really grateful for your visit.

I am currently applying to study midwifery at university and hope that the skills/experience gained from volunteering will help support the selection process.

I’d recommend the experience to others thinking about a career in NHS.

Margaret Brunton, Welcomer Guide, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

My name is Margaret, and I help at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital as as Welcomer/Guide.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy being of use and within the QEUH I feel I am useful. This supports others as well as my feeling of usefulness!

What is your main reasons for volunteering?

The volunteering role in QEUH is required for many less able patients and visitors due to the huge area containing so many speciality areas as well as within adjacent buildings which make the QEUH Complex. I am so pleased to be of help to all.

Tell us about something you have felt proud of in your volunteering role?

I can’t say I am proud of anything, however its a happy feeling when you have been able to alleviate some anxieties for patients and visitors by calmly supporting them to there appointment/other query.

Pat McCamley, Ward Volunteer & Singer, Gartnavel General

My name is Pat, and I help at Gartnavel General Hospital, Ward 4C.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

The people I meet. I sing at ward events and involved in flower arranging expanding to more than one ward/hospital. I’m also involved in Screen Memories.

What is your main reasons for volunteering?

Do something useful but also enjoyable during my retirement.

Tell us about something you have felt proud of in your volunteering role?

Helping patients to laugh out loud. Singing and encouraging patients to enjoy singing the songs they know. I miss coming in if I’m not here… Patients know words to songs and to help patients with the words, it’s a purpose for them and me sharing an enjoyment.

Rose O’Doherty, Patient Information Centre, New Victoria Hospital

Following a period of ill health in 2008, including a stay in the Old Victoria Hospital, I had to close down my cat sitting business to aid my recovery. In March 2010 I started as a volunteer in the Patient Information Centre (PIC) at the New Victoria Hospital, a post I am still in today.

My volunteering role gave me back some structure in my week, working on Wednesdays for a 4 hour shift, and with a background in Biology, I was able to man the information table in the atrium and help patients, staff and others in their search for relevant information regarding health improvement issues.

I thoroughly enjoy the interaction I have with people in the atrium and I think people, especially patients, welcome a smiling face and chat as they pass through the hospital. I combine this role in the New Victoria with my role as a British Heart Foundation Scotland volunteer – the latter involves fundraising and awareness raising.

I’ve developed a good working relationship with staff and volunteers in the PIC and often visit clinics and wards in the hospital to distribute relevant information.

My role is supported by training and development away days and I feel I have gained useful communication and work-related experience and hope that in the near future I may be able to put my skills to use in the wider workplace. I can highly recommend a volunteer role within the PICs for anyone who is interested in making good use of their spare time.

Volunteer AMN. Naloxone Peer Educator, Glasgow City HSCP North East

As a Naloxone Peer Educator in North East Glasgow area I was given a great opportunity in August 2017 to become part of the Naloxone Peer Delivery Pilot. This new role involves me completing paperwork, inputting data into the computer system and handing out the Naloxone kits.

To make this transition I became a Volunteer with NHSGGC North East. Having previously volunteered in a similar environment I felt very comfortable and the transition for me was very easy. There is a change of pace with this exciting new venture and with my fellow Peers we have been hard at work. In my volunteering role I am more in control of my time and effort as part of a team in my time is more fixed and I worked my volunteering around my other priorities. I did not feel any pressure as the responsibility and accountability within my volunteering was discussed and supported.

As a team we have great support from NHS staff, and our supervisor, and as I became more confident in my abilities I was given more opportunities to work on my own initiative. I feel very fortunate to receive training and support that has encouraged my development at a pace that worked for me. I’m also grateful for the opportunities to practice my new skills in a variety of different care settings with a definite emphasis on my safety this was enhanced with direct communication and understanding. There is a very supportive connection and my supervisor is able to ease any anxieties around being in formal settings. He instills a sense of calm and order which helps me to deliver training even in challenging circumstances but this is often where the training is most needed.

This opportunity has given me confidence to feel that I can make an impact however small by using my own experience. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and as I continue my volunteering which I feel will equip me with certain values that will be useful as I move towards employment – structure, timekeeping, organisational skills, commitment, team working and self-respect for my own worth for what I can bring. This has been a great experience overall for me. It has allowed me to have a unique experience in a safe and nurturing environment, so thanks for the opportunity.

Volunteer DB, Glasgow City HSCP North West

One of my main reasons for volunteering was to try and return to paid employment. I’m a lone parent with two daughters aged 7 and 9 years old. I was finding it really hard to get a job. It has been nine years since I last worked.

The drugs project I worked for was closed down and my manager had passed away, so it was a real problem obtaining references. I had volunteered before for HIV, Family and Carers Support Group and really thought it was worthwhile and it helped in my application for my University course in Alcohol and Drug Studies.

This volunteering position appealed to me as it covered the huge area of health improvement, a subject close to my heart, if you pardon the pun!

I can happily report I have been successful in getting a job with the NHS as a ‘sessional smoking cessation facilitator’. I’m certain my experience as a ‘Health Information Point Support Volunteer’ definitely gave me an advantage over other candidates. The support and encouragement from my Volunteer Co-ordinator also played a big part in my confidence to apply for the job.

Initially one of my major hurdles in taking up this voluntary work was childcare. I had to arrange for my two primary school age children to be picked up after school finished and looked after until I could collect them. This was due to some of the training ending at 4pm. It was tricky as I am a lone parent with no family support so I had to ask friends as a favour to look after my children.

I really enjoyed the training. It was great to be meeting new people and learning about health. I’m really interested in health and how we can improve our own health.

My Granny always impressed on me how important good health was ‘it doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you don’t have your health’. She was brought up in an era before the NHS and lost siblings to childhood diseases and explained what a financial struggle it was to call the Doctor to the house.

The benefits of volunteering to me have been huge. It’s made me feel I’m doing something worthwhile as I am trying to make people aware of steps they can take to improve their health or prevent them developing a serious illness.

I enjoy the face to face contact with the patients if I can engage them in a conversation about health matters I feel useful and feel a sense of achievement. I think I provide a welcoming and open face to the patients and that I have time to listen to their concerns.

By acquainting myself with health centre staff and other service providers so I can put a face to a name and find out about the service so I can really promote the service to patients such as Smoke Free Services and the Bridging Service.

Volunteering has improved my own health and well-being. It has given a routine and a purpose to my life and made me feel a part of something good. It helped me contact my own Doctor about my risk of breast cancer and I was sent for genetic counselling which explained my risk was slightly higher than average and now I receive earlier breast screening.

I would highly recommend volunteering it’s a great opportunity and has certainly been fantastic for me!

Volunteer NM, Glasgow City HSCP North West

Volunteering with the NHS has been a very positive and rewarding experience for me. I started volunteering because I had been unemployed for many years due to ill health. I was advised by the Bridging Service to get involved with volunteering to get me back into a workplace environment at a pace that suited my needs.

Having suffered from ill health for so long I struggled to get the motivation and lacked the confidence needed to return to work. Volunteering has given me the confidence and skills to get back on track and hopefully return to employment. My health and restrictions meant I could not always be sure of how much time or when I would be able to commit but I feel this has improved. I’ve been fully supported from staff and colleagues and have been enabled to go at my own pace and work at a level that suits me.

My confidence has improved significantly and I have gained new experiences and skills. There have been many training opportunities and I have attended certified courses which will improve my CV. I think I have enhanced patients experiences by being helpful and considerate and keeping my own knowledge up-to-date, through attending information sessions and training, to then pass on to the patient.

I also feel I have enhanced and built capacity of the services I am involved with by being fully committed to my roles and always thinking of and suggesting ways to help improve services.

My volunteering has improved my health and well being by getting me out of the rut I was stuck in for many years. I now have a routine and I can now look to the future with a positive outlook, which I could not do before.

I’d recommend volunteering with the NHS to anyone who is looking to get back in to work and improve their abilities and confidence.

Volunteer PA, Glasgow City HSCP North East 

My volunteering experience within the health and social care sector has allowed me to work with various client groups such as vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, elderly to those experiencing homelessness with addiction/mental health problems.

My desire is to pursue a career which would allow me to work within the community in helping individuals to build the self-confidence, motivation and skills necessary to make and sustain changes to live longer and healthier lives. This has led me to undertake a master’s degree in the public health due to its goal in protecting and improving lives through health promotion and prevention practices.

The programme has advanced my understanding of properly applying concepts, theories, and the principles of public health practices. Volunteering within the NHS North East Glasgow health improvement team has allowed me to gain first-hand experience on how the theories in health improvement are being put into practice.

For example, I have been fortunate to shadow one of the staff in attending various meetings with schools in order to promote and giving information on the health week planning pack for schools.

There are various opportunities and support available depending on volunteer’s area of interest in order for them to develop skills and knowledge.

My mentor has been great at informing me of opportunities that may be of benefit to me such as training course and I hope to start volunteering with the smoking cessation team soon.

I can genuinely say that the team appreciate even the smallest time that volunteers’ can spare and I look forward to volunteering more with the team in promoting and improving health for the community.

I believe that the experiences, knowledge, and lessons that I will gain throughout volunteering with the North East Glasgow health improvement team will certainly better equip me to serve the community.