As a mother I wanted to thank the NHS with my actions, rather than my words

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Veronika Dutfield-Valeckova, Biomedical Science Student, wanted to thank the NHS through volunteering and has surpassed her won expectations

Royal Voluntary Service logo

I felt that as a mother of 2 children with extensive needs, this was my opportunity to give back to our wonderful NHS. My two children have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). I’ve been so privileged to be able to access NHS support, it was important to me to be able to thank with my actions, rather than my words. So many people have become isolated or bereaved during the past 2 years, and often they’ve had no other human contact than with me and my colleagues from the Royal Voluntary Service. For some it has become a lifeline and a connection to the outside world, and I feel pride as well as feeling privileged to have been allowed to make someone else smile. 

First Aid Response 

I’ve logged over 1000 hours since March 2020. I am available to respond to an emergency by the service users, and oftentimes get to a patient before the emergency services. As I am CPR and defibrillator trained, as well as carrying Pulse Oxymeter, I can monitor patients vital signs and administer CPR, if the situation requires it. I feel that at times, the emergency response has been vital for both patients as well as the services, given how stretched the emergency services are. I was able to provide a little bit of comfort to patients waiting for medically trained staff, whilst ensuring patients were safe. 

Community Support 

I’ve been driving vulnerable patients to and from medical appointments as well as collecting prescriptions, food shopping and dog walking for those who can’t leave the house. At my local health centre I’ve been helping with admin duties and making welfare checks by phone with vulnerable adults as well as patient monitoring during the vaccination programme delivery.  

Friendship 

Volunteering has allowed me to form new friendships, be it with the service users or my colleagues. I’ve been able to establish a support network that stretches further than the realms of my immediate community, which I’ve felt has played an intrinsic part in the success of the service delivery and service users experience. It has brought the wider community closer and with some patients, it has restored their faith in humanity and kindness, when they’ve felt like there was none. I have been incredibly privileged to play a part of a wonderful team who give up their spare time to others, and this has been such a wonderful experience that has helped my mental health and confidence like nothing else could have done. 

Learning 

I’ve learnt how to calm a distressed patient. I’ve learnt to communicate at many different levels due to patients’ different requirements and capabilities. I was able to build a strong foundation for trusting my instincts and judgement when arriving at the scene of an emergency. I’ve learnt just how powerful the ability to listen is, and how much of a difference it makes to the person who’s being listened to.  

Looking Forward 

I am still volunteering with the service, and on top of that, I have set up a community hub that feeds into a national volunteering group called The Golden Hearted UK. This hub provides crisis food parcels to people whilst they await approval for food bank access. This has proved to be an invaluable service to many. My close friend and I fundraise to provide the emergency food parcels. We are currently in the process of applying for a charity status, as we both feel, this would give us the opportunity to access more community grants, which would allow us to reach more people in desperate need. 

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