Posted on: 9 June 2020

These highlights are from volunteers in our Check In and Chat phone service which launched last month.

This is for patients across CNWL who have been advised to ‘shield’ and other vulnerable patients that are self-isolating who may want to keep in contact with us. 

We are using a team of trained volunteers and staff to telephone vulnerable and shielding patients who have been selected by services who need some additional contact to essentially ‘check in on them’. 

Here is what the volunteers from the service have said.

Vishal Thakrar

I have always had a passion to volunteer as I believe that if one has the time, one should volunteer. I was able to obtain three volunteer roles for my local community.
The first was with the “GoodSam” app whereby I was delivering medication to the local patients who are shielding or suffering from physical impairments.

My second role provides mental health support to patients in Brent who suffer from various mental health issues. My commitment to speaking to all my patients on a regular basis can reduce pressure on other social care support services as I discuss each patient’s current lifestyle and health concerns and feedback to my Supervisor who is then free to use her time to support other areas of the NHS.
Two of my patients are glad I check in on them regularly as it makes them feel someone is there looking out for them and showing concern on their health.

My third role is providing administration support to a Clinical Psychologist at Kingswood Centre. My work allows the senior Psychologist to focus more on patients and their welfare.

I have learnt how to be receptive in challenging behaviour to adapt to each patient’s communication. I aim to continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Roger Cable

I am a surveyor / manager for a major UK security fencing and gates manufacturing company and the installations along with access controls (currently furloughed).

Having initially helped with the distribution of other volunteers T shirts and badges I am now signed up with the Check in & Chat telephone calls service which is now into its third week (fourth next week)   

This has given me the opportunity to give much needed help and comfort to lonely and self-isolated persons who due to their circumstances are shielded. This has given me a feeling of worth and indeed hopefully making a difference to the person at the other end of phone call.  I have actually had some great conversations with the patients I have been allocated to check in and chat with and after their much-needed conversations have requested further calls to follow on a week later.

David Drake

I wanted to help and be a volunteer as I have 12 years of social care experience, mental health and substance misuse and know-how this has impacted on some of the people I deal with on a daily basis  I wanted to get involved as I know the people we have been dealing with are on their own and feel helpless, alone, scared and frustrated and our telephone call may be the only call that day.

I put myself in other people's shoes who are less fortunate than myself and try to imagine how I would feel if I was on my own and was isolated, I realize this would have a massive impact on my mental health.

I find that when we call the people we have been allocated, they are so grateful for that call and they talk to you like you have known each other for a long time as people know you are a volunteer and giving your time to make a difference and to give your time to them to make sure that they are ok and they are not alone.  

I love doing what I do as a volunteer as I know that my call can make a difference to someone else.

Djamila Ouriachi

I had enrolled back in April to be a volunteer for the NHS. I got called back by the CNWL for the role of check in and chat volunteer. In my everyday life, I am a sales director for a big consultancy company, and I quickly discovered that my communication skills would come in handy : in my professional role, I am used to take care of my client’s needs, listen to them carefully, try to understand their pains, which translates well in this volunteer role. 

I am grateful for having the opportunity to use these skills to give back to the community, while helping and supporting people in a tough situation at the moment, and having the possibility to do something concrete and useful during this crisis. 

We got a comprehensive day of training with fantastic CNWL staff and carers, and were promptly sent material as well as resources, which helped me hit the ground running. Everybody was so nice, knowledgeable, caring. So far I have had the chance to speak with great, interesting patients, discovering their lives, their passions and hobbies. All the patients I have spoken with were very nice, keeping upbeat despite the circumstances. This is a humbling experience. I cannot thank CNWL staff enough.

Judith Skinner

I decided to volunteer for the CNWL check in and chat because I am 75 years old and therefore most other volunteering opportunities are not open for me. As a not very technological person I found getting set up quite a challenge but people were very understanding and I finally got there!

We had a day's training on Zoom, which was excellent and it was good to see the range of people who were volunteering.

So far, so good. I am in regular contact with several people of different ages and a range of issues they are dealing with. I have found people's stories about their lives so fascinating. Some are interested in me and my life, others need just to talk about themselves - either way is fine. People are dealing with this situation in such different ways.

I am very conscious that there are many motivations for volunteering, not the least of which is that it has great benefits for the person doing the volunteering! I hope, too, that it gives some small benefits to those I am talking with.