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Wanstead resident Andy Nutter had no hesitation in volunteering to help the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic

The creation of the NHS in the aftermath of the Second World War was a monumental achievement, and the NHS has grown to be our most treasured national asset.

Today, it employs over a million people and provides a vast range of services to all of us, sending us out healthy when we are young, mending our injuries and curing our illnesses. It is there for us at every stage of our lives.

The NHS now faces its most difficult challenge since its formation, so when the call went out at the end of March for volunteers to help, it was of little surprise that over 700,000 people signed up.

Living close to Whipps Cross Hospital, I wondered if there was an opportunity to help out at the hospital where my three children were born, and where we have been looked after for the last 25 years. A quick online search found their appeal for volunteers to help them deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

I completed an occupational health questionnaire, a DBS check and watched a series of training videos, answering some simple questions on each.

My start date arrived. Bring some ID. After four years of retirement, it felt like one of those long-forgotten first days at a new job. Exciting, with a few nerves thrown in to spice it up.

Myself and five other new volunteers were given a tour of the hospital and an explanation of the types of work we might be asked to do. The welcome was warm and friendly and we were immediately made to feel appreciated.

The aim is to use volunteers to do those tasks which take clinical staff away from providing care. Whether fetching medicine from the pharmacy, equipment from stores, moving documents around the hospital, taking food and drinks to staff, or even doing their personal shopping, we do anything that helps a medical professional to spend more of their time directly treating patients.

Our wellbeing is paramount to the hospital. Whipps, like all hospitals, are experts in keeping people as safe as possible, and I don’t feel any more likely to catch Covid-19 inside the hospital than in a supermarket. I may catch it. I expected to catch it anyway. But if you have anxieties about catching it, then volunteering in a hospital may not be for you.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week. The people are inspirational; the volunteers, the staff who lead and teach us, the staff we are supporting. They form one enormous team all pulling in the same direction and being supportive of each other at this difficult time.

Why don’t you come and join us?

For more information on volunteering, visit bartshealth.nhs.net/volunteers or call 020 8535 6772
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