Alongside the 12,000 staff here at Southmead Hospital are a team of volunteers – over 200 of them – who donate their time to support patients, families, and the staff. If you’ve been to Southmead Hospital, you may well have met some of these incredible people – from the friendly faces of our Move Makers who help patients and families navigate the hospital, to our Response team who support the pharmacy, or our peer support volunteers. We have over 20 different volunteer roles!
You might, however, not have met Kat, our Volunteer Services Manager. Funded by donations from incredible people like you, Kat supports the wonderful work of the volunteers. Kat joined in March 2020, on the first day of the first lockdown. Two years on, Kat is busy planning for the future, as she and her team gradually reintroduce volunteers to patient-facing roles, such as the extremely valuable Mealtime Support volunteer role. This role provides companionship and encouragement to patients during mealtime. If you’d like to find out more information or apply for this special role, visit the North Bristol NHS Trust website.
How many women volunteer for the Trust?
All of our volunteers bring their own unique perspectives and sets of skills. Approximately 72% of our volunteer team identify as female.
I also manage three fantastic women who make up our Volunteer Service Staff Team. They are extremely passionate about improving the patient experience and valuing our volunteers so that they feel appreciated and supported. They have great insight, experiences, and ideas, I feel privileged to manage them.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy speaking to the volunteers and hearing what motivates them to donate their time for free. I am always in awe of how much time, dedication, and patience the volunteers have!
Have you seen volunteering empower female volunteers in your time at the Trust?
Yes, I have spoken with several female volunteers who felt that volunteering empowered them, whether it was with an increase in confidence, improvement of wellbeing, or the gaining of skills for study or employment. I received the below comment from a volunteer whose volunteer role reaffirmed her career path:
“Volunteering confirmed my decision to head back to university. I already knew I wanted to become a paramedic but being in the ED confirmed I was on the right track and that it was absolutely what I wanted to do. Seeing the professionals at work reassured me that it was the type of environment I’d want to work in – their values are all amazing, and their reason for working there showed me it is what I want to focus my time doing…The enthusiasm and upbeat nature of all the other volunteers was a great influence too. Overall, the whole hospital reassured me I should be working in a care environment.” – Female volunteer at Southmead Hospital
Do you have a female role model who has helped you in your career?
My previous role before joining NBT was with the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust. I joined the team at the same time as Trish Johnson, who was the bridge’s first female Bridge Master. Trish is a Chartered Civil Engineer and former Regional Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers. Trish had achieved so much within a traditionally male-dominated profession, I always admired her professionalism, and resolve.
Is there a female outside of your work life who you admire?
I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive family, I am close to my mum and sister. They have both experienced challenging circumstances; however, their positive and strong attitudes have always shone through. They always care for others no matter what – something I will always admire and aspire to.