Juggling volunteering alongside studies and extra curricular commitments can be a challenge. Cardiff and Vale UHB decided to give young people the chance to try out volunteering during their summer break.
The Youth Summer Project provided opportunity for short term volunteering over a six week period. Twenty young people, aged 16 – 25, were selected for the programme.
Training was provided to become a dementia friend, as well as the full suite of core induction training required by the health board. Volunteers engaged in two two hour sessions each week and progressed through three different volunteer roles: Welcome Team, Patient Survey and Patient Befriender.
The young people were keen to get the most from the experience including to improve their skills in active listening, problem solving, communication with people of all ages and taking initiative. It improved their confidence and increased personal resilience and the ability to show empathy to patients, too.
One volunteer said ‘it has been insightful and valuable for various reasons. For instance, there are significant skills that I have improved from this fantastic experience. Also, it was fascinating to gain experience in a health care setting and gaining useful knowledge from staff members.’
Another described what they had gained from the opportunity: ‘I think communication, team work and just maintaining conversation with a lot of the patients. We reassured them and it was amazing to talk about so many different stories – we could relate to so many patients.’
Staff appreciated the presence and involvement of young volunteers, recognising the benefits to patients and the importance of encouraging young people’s interest in a future career within the health service:
‘These two volunteers did fantastically. They had four patients in the day room doing quizzes, games and singsongs’.
‘I have nothing but praise for them, polite, able to adapt to the patients’ needs, respectful of patients’ abilities and they were patient. If these are the future of the NHS I think we’re gonna be ok!’
Many of the young people have stayed on beyond the summer placement, continuing to volunteer with the health board, either as Patient Befrienders or as members of the Cardiff and Vale Health Youth Board.
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