During National Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7), NHS leaders in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) are highlighting the wide range of opportunities for volunteers in local health services.
The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board (LLR ICB) recently launched a volunteering campaign to attract people to volunteer and make a real difference to local healthcare in their community.
The campaign has already gathered interest with willing volunteers wanting to support their GP surgery, carers’ groups, volunteer in hospitals and support youth groups too. There are volunteering opportunities available for people for all ages and from all backgrounds.
Volunteering can be extremely rewarding and go a long way in improving people’s health and lives, as well as a chance to develop skills. Volunteers who work with their local GP surgery have been creative in setting up coffee and cake mornings and walking clubs to help patients keep active and meet other people, along with many other innovative ways to impact patient care in a positive way. One patient group has introduced a carers’ network which includes holding carers’ mornings and they have initiated longer appointments being offered by the GP practice for carers and the person they care for, so that they have more time to discuss their needs.
The patient group at Barwell and Hollycroft Medical Centres introduced a befriending scheme during the Covid pandemic, to support those who were feeling lonely during lockdown and offer a way to connect with fellow patients. Alan, who volunteers for the patient group, said: “Following a conversation with our GPs, a telephone befriending service was set up to help to alleviate the loneliness that some of our patients had been experiencing. This was prior to Covid and the service began with one or two volunteers who called a patient once a week.
“Covid arrived on the scene and the demand for our services greatly increased and with person-to-person contact being difficult during lockdown, telephone befriending became the best way to deal with issues that people had. Since then we have grown to around 34 volunteers calling on over 40 people.
“Now, with the arrival of Social Prescribers and Local Area Coordinators in our GP surgeries, these professionals are able to refer people to us and, in turn, they provide support to us on occasions when our Befrienders alert us to a problem with a client.”
Sue Venables, Head of Engagement with the LLR ICB, said: “Volunteers’ Week is a great time to sign-up to one or more of these exciting opportunities in our area and with our local partners. There is something for everyone, whether you’ve got a bit of spare time to support those in need, or be the voice to help shape local health services. Please visit our Health and Wellbeing Volunteering web-page for more information on how you can sign-up. Alternatively, please email us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.”