Volunteers Week 2016

6.6.16

Volunteers Week 2016

Over 21 million people volunteer in the UK at least once a year and this contributes an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy. Behind these big numbers is a big contribution.

These 21 million people are a shining example of how we can all make a big difference to individuals and communities every day from improving the environment we live in, spending time with those who may otherwise be lonely and contributing to a range of other essential services and support. We believe such a big contribution is worth a big celebration! During week beginning 6th June, look out for displays at the main entrances to both our hospitals with all kinds of information, facts and figures about our wonderful volunteers.

Many people will be familiar with our army of red shirt volunteers at the hospitals, as well as our chaplaincy volunteers. We also have many charity partners whose volunteers are the lifeblood of what they do. However, something most people may not have thought about is the Governors of our Trust, all of whom step up to the role in a voluntary capacity.

Nationally there are approximately 4,500 governors and on average foundation trusts and trusts have around 13,500 members. The most common council size is 29 governors and on average 53% of the council is made up of public governors, 19% staff governors, 23% appointed governors and 5% patient, service user or carer governors.  We have 24 governors at our Trust. We spoke to our Patient’s Governor, Jennifer Harley.

Q: What were your expectations of the Governor role and how has the reality differed from this?

Of course when you start something like becoming a governor you think you are going to make changes. You want to contribute to making improvements if there are any to be made. I have no medical background, other than being on the receiving end of clinical care, so I entered the role with an open mind, and relied on the information given me. I really didn’t know what to expect and didn’t want to get anything wrong so I depended largely on the guidance of the Trust Secretary.  We are also lucky to have a very astute and thorough Lead Governor who carries out his role in exemplary fashion and I have seen our Council of Governors become very cohesive in recent months. Overall since being elected, I have gained a lot more confidence and have enjoyed the company of new friends and colleagues.

Q: Do you have specific responsibilities in your role?

Yes, as patient governor I am on the Patient Information Review Group and have been helping to review the patient information leaflets, which are displayed on the wards and usually given to patients on discharge. I am really enjoying this aspect of my role as in a former life I worked on magazines and newspapers, preparing them for publication. Obviously proof-reading was an important part of the process before the magazines went to press and I have spent many a long hour crossing t’s and dotting i’s. I love Plain English and enjoy simplifying convoluted and confusing sentences! 

Q: What impact do you feel you have made in your time as a governor?

I hope I have been a good ambassador for the Trust and feel that whenever the opportunity has arisen I have reinforced – to past and future patients – the dedication and professionalism of the staff and that the care and aftercare at both hospitals are second to none. I hope that they have felt reassured after speaking to me and confident about their hospital procedures.

Q: Has your opinion of the Trust or of the NHS changed over the last 2 years?

No I don’t think so, not really. I already knew the NHS was under pressure but being a governor has highlighted the reasons why. It has also shown me the constraints under which the NHS works like the recruitment and retention of staff. It's been so interesting to meet many members of staff and I am always in awe of the commitment and professionalism they show, and their dedication to providing the best possible care to patients.

Q: People talk about the rewards of volunteering in terms of giving back to the community they live in. What would you say have been the benefits of this volunteer role for you?

I had such first class treatment during my stays in hospital that I wanted to ‘put something back’.  I now have the time to dedicate to volunteering which I have not had previously, while making new friends along the way. Whatever my contribution to the Trust has been, I seem to have got a lot more out of it.

To find out more about our Governors and the role they play, visit our website: http://www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/en/Foundation-Members-Area/Being-a-Governor/

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