Celebrating all our GOSH Volunteers

3 Jun 2020, 10:33 a.m.

Did you know that across the UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and GOSH Charity have over 1,000 volunteers? This Volunteers’ Week, we’re sharing stories of a few wonderful staff and volunteers who have sprung into action to support the hospital in its time of need.

Lily, a regular volunteer at GOSH, describes how her duties have changed with the outbreak of COVID-19. 

“I volunteered as a GOSH Guide shortly before the coronavirus outbreak. Since then, I’ve spent the majority of the last couple of months helping with the GOSH pop-up shop, which provides hard-working hospital staff with food and drink that have generously been donated by different companies and services.

“I jumped at the chance to volunteer in the shop because I was keen to be as helpful as possible during a testing and difficult time for the hospital and its staff.

“The shop is a fantastic opportunity to say thank you to the incredible NHS staff who have kept GOSH going and selflessly come in, day after day, to help children and families here, even when it’s meant putting themselves at risk. A highlight has been getting to know different faces and departments within the Trust, and there has been a real sense of community and comradery in working together to help, from doctors and nurses, to those handing out donations, to delivery drivers and small businesses who have donated their products.

“As a volunteer, I've also had other duties, like keeping the signage visible and up-to-date as the COVID-19 situation develops. I’ve measured and put out the “social distancing starfish” to keep people two metres apart, and I’ve passed on deliveries to various departments as they’ve come in. It’s been a privilege getting to do different roles, work with different teams, and generally being able to help in some small way throughout this crisis.

“Morale here has been, surprisingly, very high throughout. I think staff and patients have such a unique perspective, and there is so much strength, resilience and care within the hospital, that I cannot fail to be inspired and grounded whenever I come in.”

Regular volunteer Faiza, who usually dances around the hospital in bright fancy dress spreading pure joy to patients and staff, shares how she’s been supporting from a distance: 

“With my health condition, I am considered higher-risk of getting seriously ill if I contracted coronavirus. Therefore I have been unable to travel into London and into the hospital. I’ve really missed dressing up and taking the trolleys of magical games around the wards. It’s like a part of me is missing right now, and since I was a patient at GOSH, this is the most time I have ever spent away from the hospital.

“I have kept busy by offering my services as a yoga teacher to all the volunteers and staff at GOSH. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week I also ran virtual sessions that included a chair yoga and meditation session!

“I cannot wait to be back volunteering at the hospital as soon as I can, causing all the mischief and magic with my other volunteer buddies.”

Learn how Professor Lyn Chitty, Professor of Genetics and Fetal Medicine, has supported the hospital recently:

"My normal role involves leading our genetics programme at GOSH. When the pandemic began, I had to work from home. It was frustrating and I wanted to help colleagues working to support the various COVID endeavours. When I learned from Dr Laura Turner - our Deputy Director of the NIHR GOSH Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) - that we would soon run out of plastic supplies essential for our COVID-19 staff testing, I saw my opportunity!

"We were running short of the pieces of plastic needed for a robot, called NIMBUS, that the hospital lab was using to detect the live virus. Without it, our ability to test hospital staff would be compromised. Our usual suppliers were unable to provide any, so Dr Turner rang around her networks and we got lucky with two companies in Bracknell and Cambridge. Both were fantastic, offering to donate their plastic supplies and re-opening their premises to make sure the items were packed up and ready for collection.

"I set off on a little road trip to pick up the packages, and delivered them to a very happy Dr Turner at GOSH! It was great to be able to help, and I see so many of my colleagues doing the same thing across the hospital. Many of them are still redeployed into roles that look very different to before COVID-19.

"On my way back from Cambridge I heard on the radio about people making scrubs for local hospitals. I immediately rang my friend Debbie Marchant (using hands free of course) to tell her about this as she made costumes for London Musicals and as the theatres had closed she was not working. We set up a group to make scrubs - the GOSH Sewingnomes. Debbie coordinates the team: people sewing, finding people to donate fabric (>1100 metres) and my book club friends (and husband) helped with the cutting out until Debbie found someone to machine cut. I am the courier fetching and carrying as required!

"These are great examples of people giving up their time and resources to help, whether individuals or companies. With so much bad news at the moment, a silver lining for me is witnessing the wonderful generosity of people."

We'd like to say a massive thanks to all staff and volunteers who have made extra effort to support the hospital over the last few months. Happy Volunteers' Week everyone!

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