Volunteers, and statutory services. It’s a tricky area. But then so are statutory services these days.
This is nothing new of course. For example, we are a small island, and our lifeboat service is not statutory. It’s staffed entirely by volunteers, and funded only by donations. This is the same situation for our crucial air ambulances.
Now it appears that the NHS may be relying more and more heavily on volunteers who have a growing role and are essential to the NHS.
This may well have been the case for the whole of our beautiful service’s 70 years .The Royal Voluntary Service has been going longer than the NHS and has been feeding volunteers into the support of hospitals for the whole 70 years.
Over the years (not 70, but a few!) I’ve trained not just the Volunteer Managers within the NHS, but also the many people volunteering to support that service to happen.
There are the coordinated lifts to get to hospital appointments. The befriending services that enable a doctor to feel comfortable discharging a patient. The bereavement service that supports the aftermath. To name a tiny number of parts of a huge cushion of support.
Then, of course there are the volunteers working to highlight, and counteract, the creeping privatisation of our national health service. Another mound of spare time – evenings, weekends, squeezing in time for what they think is worth fighting for.
Take a bow:
- The National Heath Singers – hardworking NHS professionals doing this creative and selfless awareness-raising display in their spare time
- The countless ‘Save our Hospital’ campaigns up and down the country
- The whole of the National Health Action Party – doctors at the end of their tether trying to find every which way they can to halt the juggernaut.
- …An army of volunteers organising and supporting petitions, letters, marches – Such commitment from those who know the importance of this service and want to keep it.
My daughter remembers a particularly cold morning before school when we stood at Whipps Cross hospital gates in protest and I hadn’t put enough socks on her – she got a hot chocolate for her troubles. It is of course her generation who may never really experience what the NHS should and can be.
So just imagine if all that time and energy that is being spent trying to save the NHS could instead be spent on those beautiful voluntary roles that make people’s lives better? The befriending, the lifts to hospital, the listening in hospital wards?
Happy Birthday NHS – I pledge to continue to support all those giving their time to keep this vital service compassionate, and available to all.
VolunteersYeah – Things we Find Ourselves Saying as Volunteer Coordinators available now. Whether you have a small campaign, or a large project – tips and suggestions to make your life easier.