Visitors to the Macmillan Windmill Unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital may recognise the friendly faced volunteer serving them their tea and coffee. Alma is one of 400 volunteers at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust, and was one of the first to return this week, as part of a phased return to action, coinciding with National Volunteers Week.
“I became a volunteer because I had heart surgery in 2015 and when I was in the hospital, I wanted to give something back,” Alma said this week as she returned to her role after 15 months away from the hospital. “I did a patient video to tell how wonderful the cardio unit is and how great the surgeon was and after the video I got a call asking me if I wanted to be a volunteer and that’s how it all started.
“I do the tea bar on a Thursday and I am a listener on a Wednesday.
“As a listener you go around visiting wards and ask patients how their stay is and how their treatment is and everything like that. It’s basically a role where we listen and if there is ever a problem with a patient, we can report that back to the office.
“I love meeting the people and helping people out. If people want a couple of tea, I can jump up and get them one. As a listener, if they want to talk I love talking, I was always told off at school. So I like that bit of it.”
Born in the East End of London, Alma moved to Blackpool 30 years ago and spent time as a secretary at Co-Op Bank and also worked as a Medical Secretary to a GP before becoming a volunteer. Now, after being away from her role due to the pandemic restrictions, she is delighted to get back to action.
“I’ve missed it like mad,” she said. “It is brilliant working in a hospital. I nearly cried when I walked in this morning. It is so lovely to be appreciated, in the commercial world you are a number, here I have never felt like I’m a number.”