Volunteer Voices – Ward Helpers Rachel and Lauren

As part of Volunteers Week 2019 (June 1-7), we are looking at some of the volunteer roles around Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Here, we meet Ward Helpers Rachel McMurdo, 17 and Lauren Gowlding, 19.

You may think it is unusual for youngsters to volunteer at their local hospital, but for Rachel and Lauren, it has been an amazing bonus for their social life and their education.

Rachel has been volunteering since she was 16 to gain some valuable experience to accompany her triple BTEC studies at Blackpool Sixth.

She said: “I want to be a diagnostic radiographer so getting experience on a ward really helped with my university application to the University of Cumbria. But I have also really come to love everyone on Ward 39 where I volunteer each week.”

Lauren started volunteering a year before Rachel and was also studying at Blackpool Sixth. Because of their time spent together at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, they are now best friends.

Lauren said: “I want to be a paramedic and have a conditional place at UCLan, but not only have I gained a lot of skills through volunteering, I also gained a best friend and we have coached each other through our studies and applications to university.

“We have both left college now and unfortunately will be leaving Blackpool Victoria as we will both be living at university, but we will be sad to leave as we have become part of the team and everyone has been amazing.”

Part of the girls’ roles on the ward was making sure all the water jugs were kept full, helping with the tea and coffee rounds and assisting with patient menu choices.

Rachel added: “The older patients are quite shocked to see young people helping on the ward. But we have become a bit of a double act and we enjoy cheering people up and being able to help.

Although they will be leaving their roles soon, the girls plan to stay in touch and get together when they are home from university.

“But once we have qualified in our respective courses, we hope to return to Blackpool Victoria to work. And of course we will be popping in to Ward 39 to say hello.”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at Blackpool Victoria or Clifton Hospital, you are welcome to attend these recruitment events:

Monday, June 3 – Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s mezzanine, 11am until 2pm

Thursday, June 4 – Clifton Hospital, Pershore Road, Lytham St Annes, 12 until 3pm

For any further details, please ring 01253 957399 or email bfwh.volunteers@nhs.net

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