Sheffield hospital volunteers receive top award from the Queen for their incredible contribution to city's health service

A group of kind-hearted volunteers at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 9:00 am

Volunteers receive award that is the equivalent of an MBE

The award, which is the equivalent of an MBE, was designed to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said Sheffield Hospitals Volunteers have received the award ‘in recognition of the incredible support they provide to patients and staff but also for going above and beyond to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme’.

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Staff and volunteers at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals celebrate after receiving the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Kirsten Major, chief executive at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that our volunteers have been recognised by this prestigious award, which is made even more special that they have received it in the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

"As well as all the brilliant support they have provided to our hospitals across the years, the way they have stepped up to a new challenge over the last two years has been remarkable.

"They have shown incredible commitment in helping us, despite challenges due to Covid-19, and have most recently played a vital part in supporting our vaccination programme. Their flexibility, willingness to adapt and unstinting dedication has been extraordinary and we are very lucky to have them as part of our team.”

Representatives of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Volunteers are set to receive the award crystal and certificate from Professor Dame Hilary Chapman DBE, Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire later this summer.

Chris Bexon - Active Response Volunteer

‘I never fail to be amazed by the dedication and commitment they show’

Emma Scott, the trust’s voluntary services manager, said: “I am delighted that our wonderful volunteers have been recognised by receiving this prestigious award. Their support is highly valued by the organisation and I never fail to be amazed by the dedication and commitment they show to improving the experience of our patients in hospital.”

Adrian Stone, chairman of Sheffield Hospitals Charity, added: “It is our privilege to support the service and the vital work it does for the hospitals. The award belongs to each and every one of the amazing and dedicated volunteers who give their time and energy to support our local NHS”.

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, said: “This is an incredible achievement. I think I can speak for every patient and their families and say a great big thank you for all the time effort and care volunteers have provided. We wouldn’t have got through Covid and the vital vaccination programme without their support.”

Hyang-Sook Han - Pharmacy Runner, Weston Park Hospital

The volunteers service, which is part funded by supporters of Sheffield Hospitals Charity, currently has 500-plus volunteers aged between 16 and 85.

They undertake a variety of roles, including helping with music and art ward activities, welcomers at entrances to help people find their way to wards and departments, pharmacy runners collecting medicines so patients can be discharged quickly, Vaccination Stewards, Active Response volunteers and Outpatients volunteers.

Many volunteers often gain employment within the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust or use their experience to progress in their chosen careers within the NHS.

Some of the award-winning volunteers have described why they became volunteers for the trust.

Becky Quail - Patient Support Volunteer - Day Case Unit, Weston Park Hospital

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Chris Bexon is an Active Response Volunteer

He said: “I became a volunteer at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals after having a three-inch tumour removed from my head at the Royal Hallamshire in 2016. I was then treated for thyroid cancer in 2018 at the Royal Hallamshire and Weston Park and, had it not been for the care and attention I received from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, I believe I would not be here today. I am truly grateful for the treatment I received and continue to receive, and this is why I volunteer for the Trust, it is my way of saying thank you!

I first started as a volunteer in November 2017 as a Companion Volunteer on the Acute Stroke Unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. It can often get quite boring for patients on wards and so as a patient companion I spend time with them, talk to them about their life, experiences, family and general day to day things. I try to bring humour to their experience and help give them a positive outlook, which assists their recovery. I will often accompany a patient to the hospital shop for a change of environment and try my best to lift their mood whenever possible.

During the pandemic I worked as a Welcomer at the drive-through phlebotomy service at Sheffield Arena and then I supported the COVID-19 vaccination programme working at the Northern General, Sheffield Arena and then Longley Lane for over a year. I’ve also spent time in the Jessop Maternity unit helping to enrol patients on to Tommy’s pathway and now I am an Active Response Volunteer.

As an Active Response Volunteer, we respond to requests from different departments and wards across the Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park, Jessop Wing and Charles Clifford Dental Hospital. Typical requests include supporting patients as a companion on wards, serving meals, pharmacy runs, running errands, escorting patients to appointments, simple admin tasks and carrying out friends and family surveys. One thing I love about the role is that it is very varied which means I’m always doing something different.

David Saunders - Vaccination Centre Steward

Through volunteering I have learned that everybody has different circumstances and illnesses, but they all have things in common, they appreciate your care, consideration, compassion and time.”

Hyang-Sook Han, Pharmacy Runner, Weston Park Hospital

She said of her volunteering journey with the trust: “Currently I am volunteering at the Aseptic Chemotherapy Dispenser Unit at Weston Park Hospital. My main role is to deliver chemotherapy drugs to the wards. I also help sorting the drugs to go to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital or other hospitals and store these drugs in the refrigerator to be delivered the next day.

“I have been volunteering at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals since 2017 through the ‘Over 50’s Project’. I have worked in several roles across the hospitals including a Mealtime Supporter, Welcomer and Clerical Assistant, until starting my role as a Pharmacy Runner at Weston Park Hospital.

When I first moved to the UK, I received a lot of help from the NHS giving birth to my child. I was so grateful and I wanted to repay this in some way so I decided to become a Volunteer at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. By helping with the smaller tasks across the hospital, it allows staff to focus on their work and ensures that patients can receive their medication as quick as possible.

Through my volunteering I have been able to learn about the function of the hospital and experience being able to help as a volunteer in a hospital environment. This has been a good experience so far, as I have been able to interact with many different people within the hospital.”

"Being able to be part of the team and being able to be helpful has been so rewarding. The joy of being able to help someone is great and I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with hospital officials, staff, patients and visitors”

Becky Quail is a Patient Support Volunteer - Day Case Unit at Weston Park Hospital

She said: “My volunteering role involves serving food and drinks to patients on the Day Case Unit at Weston Park Hospital. As well as this, I also chat with patients to make them more comfortable when receiving chemotherapy and help staff with day-to-day admin tasks.

“I chose to volunteer as I wanted to give back to the community and help others who need it. As COVID-19 has affected so many people, especially people with long term illnesses such as cancer, I wanted to help at the hospital in any way that I could.

“My role supports staff by helping them with simple admin tasks to relieve their workload and gives them more time to care for patients. My role supports patients by comforting them when they are feeling distressed, and providing them with anything that they ask for, such as food or hot drinks. Previously, I have volunteered for Ben’s Centre, which is a charity in Sheffield providing a safe space for those who suffer with substance misuse and homelessness.

“The best thing about being a volunteer is the relationships you form with patients and staff. You have the opportunity to talk to a wide range of people, which can be very rewarding. Outside of my volunteering I am currently studying a master’s in Health Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University.”

David Saunders - Vaccination Centre Steward

He said: “I am a steward at the Sheffield NHS Vaccination Clinic at Longley Lane. In my role I talk to patients and try help create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for when they arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination. Part of this involves helping them make their way safely and confidently through the clinic. This leaves the NHS staff free to focus on the vaccination for as many people as possible

“Having something useful to do with my time that involves meeting people is the best thing about volunteering. It also means that I’ve been able to “do my bit” during the pandemic.

“In other volunteer roles, I am a Community Responder Volunteer which involves doing shopping trips and collecting prescriptions for vulnerable people. I also help at a local food bank and I take services at my local Church when the Minister is away.”

“Outside of volunteering I go out with my wife, explore National Trust properties, look after my small garden and I am actively involved in my local church.”

Top row, left to right: Chris Bexon - Active Response Volunteer; Hyang-Sook Han - Pharmacy Runner, Weston Park Hospital Bottom row, left to right: Becky Quail - Patient Support Volunteer - Day Case Unit, Weston Park Hospital; David Saunders - Vaccination Centre Steward