By Liz Crudgington
More than 100 volunteers stepped forward to help out at East Kent Hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.
A total of 120 people supported staff with a range of tasks, from distributing free ‘grab bags’ of food to hard-working front-line staff, to collecting breast milk from mums in isolation whose babies are in the special care baby unit.
Many of the team are now being stood down as the demand for their services has decreased but the Trust’s head of patient and public involvement, Mandy Carliell, said their input had been vital.
She said: “Once again, our volunteers have played a crucial role in helping us all to keep vital services running.
“I’d like to thank not only them but also my team, including Steve Dobson and Gavin Bennie-Coulson for all their hard work, completing the huge amount of admin involved in processing 120 volunteers in a such a short space of time.
“They have worked extremely hard to make sure the Trust had volunteers in all areas that needed help.”
Volunteers have also helped by delivering food to staff who were isolating in the hospitals’ accommodation blocks, as well as helping out in departments such as laundry and stores.
Faith Cowell, from 2gether Support Solutions procurement team, said: “We had volunteers who were staff from the Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone. They provided a few of their teaching staff every weekday to help in the personal protective equipment stores at William Harvey Hospital and in the laundry. Both of those areas have really appreciated their help.”
Jason Eldridge worked previously at the Trust and came back to volunteer by helping colleagues in pathology at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital.
Lorraine Morley, operations team leader in dispensary services, said: “Returning was like riding a bike for Jason. He said that it was a privilege to be back and helping the team.
“He was able to assist the weekend team in the pharmacy and played an integral role in helping the team in a difficult situation.”
The Trust is maintaining a database of volunteers who can continue to help in the future.