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Fab Change Week - celebrating volunteers

16 November 2017


During Fab Change Week we’ve been highlighting the good work being done around the James Paget University Hospital and today we are celebrating more than 80 people who have made a fantastic personal pledge – to volunteer at the hospital.

Volunteers work across the James Paget in many different areas and departments and they provide invaluable support to staff and to patients.

The hospital currently has volunteers aged from 17 to 90 , including everyone from students who are looking for some real-world experience ahead of a career in medicine or nursing to men and women who volunteer a few hours each week or month to give something back to their local community.

Some of the departments who have volunteers include medical records, the education centre, corporate training, the physiotherapy department and various clinics, with volunteers carrying out ward clerk, human resources and admin tasks among others.

Volunteers help staff at the front reception desk and provide support to patients with breast cancer, visit the wards and help with meal times, serve as governors and provide crucial support to new mums and those with dementia.

The multitude of roles include the breastfeeding peer support service – a dedicated band of women who come in when needed to help new mums make informed choices around breast feeding and who work on the wards and in local baby cafés and support groups in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area – and Dementia Befrienders.

These volunteers work closely with patients to provide support when they need it most.

The Befrienders visit those with dementia to read to them, look at photographs, to have a chat or to play card games – providing a listening ear and a friendly, caring, environment.

In a six month period from the beginning of May to the end of October 2017 Dementia Befrienders alone gave 482 hours of service – more than doubling the 204 hours given by the same team the previous year in the same period.

There are even two volunteer dogs – Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs Harry and Jessie - and their owners who regularly come into the hospital to brighten up patient stays.

Volunteer Co-ordinator Catherine Cook oversees volunteers at the hospital and, since taking on the role in August/ September 2016, has initiated a number of positive changes.

“We’ve changed our induction for volunteers so they have a streamlined introduction to working at the hospital and the opportunities available. All volunteers undergo an application and vetting process, and we also have four volunteers who recently, through the experience they have gathered, have been successful when applying for full-time jobs at the hospital. Volunteering can provide you with new skills, an opportunity to see the reality of working in a busy hospital and the chance to help others, as well as becoming an invaluable part of the Paget team.

“We have some volunteers who have been with us for over 30 years and their dedication and service is remarkable. However long people volunteer with us, each makes a difference providing support and we thank them for everything they do.”

At one of the bi-annual coffee mornings for volunteers, held on Monday, more than 40 of those who give up their time gathered for the opportunity to talk to other volunteers, to ask questions and to catch up on developments at the hospital. Several were also recognised for their long service including one lady who was given a certificate for ten years’ service and another who has served as a volunteer for 20 years.

For more information about volunteering at the James Paget please see our website at