Specialist support staff: Volunteer Services Manager

Introducing Kat Tudor, the Charity-funded Volunteer Services Manager

When you walk through the doors of the Brunel Building, many of you will immediately spot the bright green and pink t-shirts of the Move Makers – the friendly faces to help patients and families navigate Southmead Hospital. What you might not know is that before the pandemic behind the scenes are a huge number of dedicated volunteers – over 500 of them, supported by our new Volunteer Service Manager, Kat Tudor.

Thanks to the incredible support of our donors, Kat – who joined the Trust during the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020 – has been appointed to the new role for three years, to continue enhancing the transformative services that the volunteers provide to patients, staff and visitors across our hospitals.

“Before the pandemic, we had over 500 volunteers throughout the Trust. Many of these volunteers were providing companionship, support and activities for our patients, such as our Spiritual and Pastoral Care volunteers, befrienders, and Fresh Arts volunteers. We also have some fantastic specialist peer support roles across our Kidney Peer Support Team, Head Injury Therapy Unit, and many more. We have Macmillan Wellbeing Centre volunteers who support drop-in sessions and offer complementary therapies, and we have our incredible League of Friends at both our Cossham and Southmead sites. We even have volunteer musicians and some very im-paw-tant volunteers – our Pets as Therapy dogs – who bring so much joy to patients staying in hospitals. There are many other fantastic roles!   

“The pandemic, like it did across so many other industries, affected our capacity. We had to stand down three-quarters of our volunteers which was really difficult – they are so giving in their very nature, but everyone understood. Those that did stay on have been so flexible and resilient. Every role and procedure had to change and I’m incredibly proud that we ran a great service – with over 22,500 hours donated – that made a real difference to staff, families and patients while keeping everyone safe.

“Their help and kindness is priceless and certainly never goes unnoticed. Their constant positivity and hard work bring light to the department on what could be some of our darkest days.”

Emergency Department team

“The response of those who came to our hospitals in the last year has been so touching. We’ve had so much lovely feedback from patients and their loved ones. From the Move Makers who immediately greet relatives to explain how and why things had changed in the hospitals to those who delivered medication to wards, our volunteers have made a huge difference to the experience of patients and staff during a time of unimaginable anxiety.

“Your volunteers could not have been more caring and showed such patience and understanding. I just wanted to say THANK YOU. As a primary carer, your help and steering allowed me to concentrate on what I need to which was to see to the protection and comfort of my mother – you all deserve huge respect and gratitude.”

Family member of patient

Looking forward, I’ll be working to grow and diversify the services we provide in a sustainable, long-term way – ensuring we are making the biggest possible impact on our patients and staff every single day. From dedicated meal time support volunteers to helping with the discharge process, we have so many exciting plans for our service.

Seeing our volunteers’ positive attitudes and love for the NHS, how they revel in their commitment is one of my absolute favourite things about my job.  That was highlighted during the pandemic. We saw an element of self-sacrifice, in that they had chosen to work in a hospital during the waves of Covid-19. They are exceptional people and I am so proud to work with them.

To all the Charity supporters who have made my role a reality – THANK YOU! It means the world to have your help and your recognition of the positive impact volunteers have. If you ever want to donate your time, we would love to hear from you.

Thank you for your support – it makes a huge difference to our patients, their families and our staff.

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