Young volunteers boosted by new funding

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Young people are successfully boosting the appeal of an expanded NHS volunteers service they themselves support.

The young people’s branch of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust Volunteers Service has been attracting new blood with the combined help of the youngsters’ own efforts and £80,000 new funding.The funding, from the charitable Pears Foundation and the ‘#Iwill’ fund, encourages young people to take part in youth social action and building better communities and has paid for two first-ever new posts.

Young volunteers, aged 16 – 25 are offered a range of roles including hospital ward ‘buddy’ (patient befriender) and ‘wayfinder’ ( visitor/patient guide).

One of the new staff is Fiona Jones, Youth Volunteer Co-ordinator: “There are so many exciting opportunities for young people within the NHS. Young people bring such fantastic energy to the Trust along with all their individual strengths. I am passionate about working alongside young people, ensuring they become the best version of themselves.”

She is responsible for recruiting and supporting the young volunteers on the programme and has ensured all roles are flexible around young people’ other commitments.

The volunteers are also due to promote themselves – by creating and starring in a promotional video for the NHS volunteers service.

Fiona added: “This project is fantastic and I am in a role that the Trust have never had before. I am so excited for what’s to come over the next 18 months and can’t wait to watch the project develop and the young volunteers tificate if required.

One young volunteer who wants to work in medicine, said: “Personally, I really wanted to help patients to feel loved and cared for. I realise how lucky we are to live in an area with a free, reliable health service and I wanted to be part of something that primarily focuses on the wellbeing of their patients – this wasn’t available for my grandparents.”

Another said: “I wanted to volunteer to get a taste of what life is like on the wards to help begin my medical career and to know that it is something I want to continue.”

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(Author)

Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!