Volunteers’ Week takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to recognise the fantastic contributions our student and staff volunteers make to our local communities.

Without a doubt, the past two years have been a challenging time and we continue to see the impact on our communities. Throughout it all, Christ Church Volunteers have stepped up and given their time to support local charities and community initiatives, to support those who need it the most.

So, for us this week is a chance to say a big “Thank you” to our student and staff volunteers for their invaluable contributions. We kicked off our celebrations with our Christ Church Volunteer Awards, a celebratory event held at St. Martin’s Priory on Wednesday 25th May where students who have given their time as peer mentors, community and university volunteers collected certificates and prizes and enjoyed cakes and refreshments in the gardens.

a group of staff and students at the volunteer celebration

If you are interested in volunteering, then please go to the Christ Church Volunteering platform, and look through the opportunities. All volunteers can log their hours on the platform and receive a certificate for their time - whether you are volunteering in the University as a peer mentor or a student rep, for the Union as a council representative or running a student society, or for one of the many wonderful charities in our local community.

To inspire you here's Emily, one of our current volunteers, sharing how she makes a difference...

Emily's volunteer story

I started my volunteering role at the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother hospital in Margate in January 2022, where I was assigned as ward helper on Quex ward. Initially, I took this role as prompted by Kent and Medway medical school to gain some work experience before applying to study for a medical degree. In doing this, I have since learnt to love being at the hospital, surrounded by like-minded people who ensure the care of patients is their top priority and to safeguard and protect them in one of the most vulnerable stages of their lives.

Being a ward helper means running errands that nurses and other medical staff don’t have the time to do, including going to different departments within the hospital to collect items needed for patient care. Obtaining feedback from patient surveys with the notion to improve hospital resources, with patient experiences being the biggest factor for improvement is a task I undertake weekly.

Emily working in a hospital, collecting supplies from a store area

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this volunteering role is to grab life with both hands, appreciate the small things and don’t take life for granted.

During my time at QEQM hospital, I have built working relationships with members of staff from all over the hospital and enjoy being part of a strong network of people, who always have the patients at the forefront of their minds. Working as a team and having fun in a setting that can and is sometimes sombre is incredibly important for mental wellbeing of not only staff members, but other patients during their hospital stay. Tasks also included within my role are providing clean spaces for patients, to achieve this I am required to gown up in PPE and provide hygiene products to each of the 28 patients in the ward and clean down the surfaces around their bedsides to prevent infections spreading. During this time, I ensure I make conversation with each patient, firstly by introducing myself and then explaining to them what task I am going to carry out, this gives them the chance to have a chat with someone that isn’t medically trained and has the time to sit and speak about their worries, concerns or to offload onto.

For me, volunteering in this role has made me realise how privileged I am to step into a setting where people are very poorly and extremely vulnerable and at the end of the day to be able to walk out of the ward doors to return to my young daughter, who is happy and healthy. In the short time I have been a ward helper, I have learnt many skills and gained knowledge which I will carry over into future job roles and in daily life. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from this volunteering role is to grab life with both hands, appreciate the small things and don’t take life for granted.