Blackpool Teaching Hospital’s new Chief Executive, Trish Armstrong-Child has taken time out from her busy first week to thank the Trust’s large group of volunteers, who have returned to their duties over the last few days.
The volunteers were stood down from their roles at the beginning of the pandemic, and apart from a short period in June have been out of action ever since. Trish is delighted to see them back performing their vital roles in the running the hospital.
“It is fantastic that on my first day at the Trust we welcomed back our hugely important cohort of volunteers,” Trish said. “I know from my early conversations that the volunteers at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals are well-loved and well-liked within the Trust.
“Very often our volunteers are the very first faces one of our patients will see as they are welcomed through our front doors, and it is always comforting to have a friendly face, one with a wealth of knowledge about the hospital.
“It’s great to have them back after being out of action due to the pandemic, their presence has provided a huge lift to the organisation and I look forward to thanking as many of the volunteers as I can when I am out-and-about visiting our various wards and departments.”
‘It’s great to be back’ say Dotty and Susan
The Trust’s orange army of volunteers are back, and it’s great to be ‘back to normality’ according to Dotty Wignall and Susan Lawler, a pair of welcoming faces who are on hand in the main entrance guiding and advising visitors.
The pair have been volunteering together for six years and are delighted to be reunited in a role they love.
“It is good to get back to normality. I love meeting people and being able to help people,” Dotty said as she got back into the swing of things.
“Quite often visitors are stressed or anxious about friends and family on wards, people who are very poorly. This hospital can be a bit daunting, so we try and put their mind at rest.”
Susan, who previously ran her own newsagents and gift shop, is getting accustomed to the new responsibilities of her role, including ensuring everyone sticks to the infection prevention guidelines.
She said: “The majority of people have been absolutely brilliant about wearing the masks, sanitising their hands, but we do get the odd one or two who think they don’t have to abide by the rules. For everyone like that there are hundreds who say ‘fine, no problem’.”
One of BTH’s most popular volunteers is Betty, a four-legged friend who offers pet therapy to patients and staff at Victoria Hospital.
Accompanied by her owner, Graham Curry, Betty is back in action offering companionship and cheering up many who might feel lonely on the wards.
“I visited one particular patient who was suffering from dementia. She was in a side ward and just lying in bed and hardly speaking but as soon as she saw Betty, she reached out and started speaking, it was amazing to see the effect she had on this patient,” Graham said of Betty’s immediate impact on the return of volunteers.
“Another lady said before I had come in she was feeling depressed but the visit of Betty had really improved her feelings.
“Betty was so welcomed on the wards. Many of the staff have been getting cuddles and taking selfies.”