"I felt fulfilled and grateful for the volunteering experience"

12 September 2023

This summer, more than 170 young people gave over 5,500 hours as part of our biggest ever Youth Volunteering Programme at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s hospitals.

The programme, created specifically for those aged 16 to 21, enabled us to provide extra support to NHS staff during July and August – as well as offering a platform for young people to gain valuable skills and experience.

Hear from Abeer, Khiana and Suzie as they reflect on their experiences of volunteering at our hospitals. Abeer supported the John Humphrey Ward at Hammersmith Hospital, while Khiana and Suzie volunteered in the Emergency Medical Short Stay Ward (EMSS) at St Mary’s Hospital.

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From left to right: Abeer, Khiana, and Suzie.

What was it that made you want to volunteer in a hospital?

Khiana: I was researching volunteering opportunities and the summer programme Imperial Health Charity offered was perfect. I wanted to volunteer with St Mary’s Hospital since I was familiar with the location and I was willing to dedicate my hours to supporting patients.

Suzie: I was born at St Mary's Hospital making it a sensible place to volunteer and give back to the community. Making a direct positive contribution to people when they are at their most vulnerable is really fulfilling.

What did you like about volunteering alongside the staff in your department?

Abeer: I liked that they were always helpful and friendly when I asked questions. They were very patient with me if I made a mistake and got confused, especially during mealtimes with patients.

Khiana: The staff were so helpful. One of the nurses was very polite and on my first shift she showed me around the ward when I was lost. The catering team were very collaborative – there was a kitchen staff member in particular who always lifted the mood up. They were a fun team to volunteer with.

Suzie: The staff on the ward were kind and worked as a team to provide the best care for patients. A staff member working in the kitchens made us all laugh at least once during our lunch shift.

What did you enjoy most about volunteering at the hospital, and what have you learned?

Abeer: I enjoyed meeting new people, especially elderly people as I don’t interact with them very often. This experience definitely strengthened my belief that I want to be a doctor.

Khiana: I enjoyed meeting new people and having conversations with patients on the ward. I’ve learned how to manage my time and be confident.

Suzie: I enjoyed everything about the experience. Volunteering at a hospital showed me insights into what working in a hospital setting will be like while also making me feel like I’m giving back to the community. I loved assisting patients with daily tasks and creating a safe and welcoming environment for all. I also developed practical and interpersonal skills while being a helping hand to those in need.

Do you have any positive memories that stand out to you during your experience?

Khiana: At the end of my shift I helped a lady who was lost and looked stressed. I calmed her down and accompanied her to where she was trying to go. I also remember talking to a patient about different cultures and since then I learned a lot about Portuguese food. 

Suzie:  I have made memories and life-long friends. From being specially thanked by patients after they had recovered to helping new volunteers on the ward round, I felt fulfilled and grateful for the experience.

At first, I knew no-one who aspired to be a medic but through this experience I found a whole group of people in the same boat as me. We’ve been able to collaborate in group studies, practice for entrance exams and we’re planning to help interview each other.

Do you have any advice for any young people who might be thinking about volunteering?

Abeer: Don’t be scared. It’s easy to get used to and it’s really enjoyable. It’s definitely worth it.

Khiana: I would say to go for it and don’t doubt yourself. It’s an incredible experience which you can learn and gain so many skills from. It’s a great opportunity and it means a lot to staff and patients when you devote your time to them.

Suzie: Do it! From the rewarding feeling of helping another person to the friends you will gain volunteering is worth it.

Feeling inspired? There are lots of ways you can help our hospitals by giving your time as a volunteer. To find out more about the latest volunteering opportunities at our hospitals, click here.