As we continue our week of focusing some our volunteers who make such a big difference, we introduce Ward Volunteer, Andrew Bligh , who talks about his experiences of being a volunteer.

Where do you volunteer?
I volunteer on Ward 20 at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Tell us more about the volunteer role…
When I first started there wasn’t a set schedule for me so I formulated one. I arrived around 11.30am and would take lunches from the trolley to the patients, helping patients who couldn’t feed themselves and sit and chat to them, breaking up the boredom of being in a single room. When Kim Mitchell, our Dementia Key Worker, started, I was asked to help her. We try to help patients who are capable of being active to get out to the day room for a few hours a day to “The Lunch Club” – there we encourage them to eat, chat with each other, do jigsaw puzzles and take advantage of the comfy chairs whilst watching one of the hundreds of DVDs we have on our big screen TV. I’m very proud to have been part of the team to have raised money for the TV as I see the benefits of it first hand.

How often do you volunteer?
I usually volunteer twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

How long have you been volunteering here?
About 7 or 8 years now.

What did you do before?
I owned my own timber importing business.

Why do you volunteer?
I started volunteering to raise money for a local nursing home which needed a lot of work done for it to meet EU regulations. Being part of the appeal board for 9 years, we raised what was needed with golf days, dinners, charity auctions and the like. Shortly after that finished, I happened to be attending Tunbridge Wells Hospital as an out patient. Whilst navigating my way through the new electronic booking in system, a lady came over to ask if I needed help. I assumed she was a volunteer but in fact she was a Matron. I found out there and then how to apply to be a volunteer, came along for an interview and was appointed. I assumed I would be doing reception work but was asked if I would work more closely with patients as I was good at communicating. I started on Ward 20 and have never looked back.

Do you volunteer anywhere else?
No, I don’t really have time.

What advice would you give to anyone considering
volunteer work?
I would definitely encourage people to become a volunteer. I find it very rewarding and get as much out of it for myself as I hopefully give to our patients. I’ve been there longer than most of the nurses and have a great rapport with all the ward staff – I even go to the Christmas Dinner which is lovely. Actually, I
miss it when I can’t come in.