IF YOU have time to spare and an interest in helping people, why not join the growing team of volunteers at St George’s NHS Healthcare Trust?

At present, the Trust has approximately 200 volunteers, ranging from undergraduates to retired people, and some have been volunteering for many years. There is also a summer placement programme for younger adults.

St George’s current Voluntary Services Manager, Susan Taleghany, has only been in post for two months but is already building on the strengths of this well-established volunteer programme and looking to take on more helping hands.

Susan is well practiced at recruiting and retaining volunteers as she was Voluntary Services Manager at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital for 11 years. She replaced Diane Rooney, who retired as St George’s Voluntary Services Manager at the end of January after an outstanding 18 years of service.

Susan says: “Our ideal volunteer is someone who is in it for the longer-term, and can make an on-going commitment. Sometimes our volunteers are people who have been in a caring role or caring profession, and who want to continue that work. For others, being a hospital volunteer gives them purpose; they have other activities and people in their lives, but they feel the need to contribute to the wider community.”

There are a variety of volunteering opportunities within the hospital. These include staffing information desks and corridors to help patients and visitors find their way around, listening and recommending information resources in the Health Information Centre, increasing patient and public involvement with the Trust in order to promote and improve services, providing trolley services of books and refreshments for wards or clinics, and performing basic clerical and administration tasks.

Susan says: “Our volunteers are always here to complement our services and make a difference to the patient experience. Volunteering in hospitals has a very long history, although it was probably the late 1950s when the big London hospitals started formalising volunteering.”

The role of Voluntary Services Manager involves interviewing potential volunteers, taking up references and getting police and health checks completed and – most importantly – matching volunteers to requests for assistance. “This is important to get right in order that volunteers, staff and patients benefit from the shared experience,” says Susan.

In the future, Susan hopes to further develop the team of volunteers who are trained to assist in the feeding of elderly patients on wards, and to arrange communications training for volunteers involved in meeting and greeting patients and visitors. In the shorter term, she is planning to mark National Volunteers’ Week in June with a stand in the foyer at the main entrance to the hospital.

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact Communications Manager Esther Ferguson on 020 8725 4521 or at esther.ferguson@stgeorges.nhs.uk
  2. National Volunteers’ Week is 1-7 June 2007.