Volunteers’ Week 2020, which runs from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 June, is a chance to recognise the millions of people across the UK who freely give their time, skills and expertise to volunteer in health and care services, as well their own communities, to help and support other people.
Almost 300 volunteers work in 10 departments across Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. Ranging in age from 18 to 96 years young, some of our volunteers are clearly visible and others blend into the background unseen, but all bring with them, a wealth of life experience, care, dedication love and a warm smile.
To celebrate, we’ll be shining a light on some of our volunteers throughout the week by sharing their stories with you.
Today we introduce Kay Southard.
Where do you volunteer and what’s your role?
I volunteer at Crowborough Birthing Centre which is based at Crowborough War Memorial Hospital. There are lots of things to do. I help serve refreshments to patients and their partners in their rooms, or in the dining room area. After they’ve had their baby mums enjoy tea and toast and I help them to their rooms. I order the laundry, make up the beds and help the housekeeper with her jobs. I help prepare lunch and supper trays. In addition I offer breastfeeding support because, as a former registered Midwife, it’s something I’ve been helping mums with for over 60 years! I have done all the training with Unicef so I am up to date and I enjoy supporting the mothers. I also put stock away and keep the unit tidy. I look after projects such as knitted clothes for babies, raffles for the unit and run the tombola for the hospital fete.
What’s your background?
Crowborough Birthing Centre isn’t new to me. I was a Community Midwife covering the Crowborough and Forest Row area from 1986 up until I retired six years ago. I have been a Midwife since 1965 and retired in 2014. I trained in London and have worked in Buckinghamshire then came to Crowborough in 1986. I have always worked so when I retired I thought ‘I’ve got to do something, I can’t sit at home and do nothing’. As a former midwife volunteering at the birthing centre seemed like the right place to volunteer. Now I see a lot of the children I helped to deliver into this world. They are now coming to the birthing centre to have their own children which is just lovely!
How long have you been volunteering at MTW Trust?
I started volunteering for the birthing centre when I retired six years ago. The first two years the birthing centre was managed by East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. But since 2016 the centre and all associated community midwifery care living in the High Weald area of North East Sussex has been manged by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.
What advice would you give to anyone considering volunteer work?
Volunteering really is a worthwhile thing to do. I have a lot of time on my hands and it makes me feel that I still have a purpose. Most of all I thoroughly enjoy it. I still keep in touch with old colleagues and enjoy sharing memories.