A 24-year-old Morecambe volunteer has been named Young Volunteer of the Year at the inaugural Helpforce Champion Awards for health volunteers, in London, earlier this month.
Louise Munro won the award for her contribution to staff and patients and the value she brings to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).
Louise wanted to give something back to the NHS and use her own patient experience to help improve other patient’s experiences in hospitals when she started her voluntary role in January 2018; since then she has dedicated her time to hundreds of patients.
Louise, who is originally from Edinburgh, said: “I am thrilled and humbled to win this award for doing something that I love. The positive impact of volunteering on hospital wards can be seen in the patients and their hospital experience, but also in the staff and the volunteers themselves.
“I have been volunteering for 11 months and was shocked enough when I was nominated – I never expected to win. I would recommend volunteering to anyone, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service has been the greatest thing I have ever done and I am incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received.”
A big part of her week is spent engaging in reminiscence therapy with patients on six wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. She uses photographs, music and other memorabilia along with targeted conversation about the past, historic events, patients’ own families, jobs and childhood to spark meaningful memories and conversation. She leads group ‘Move it or Lose it’ chair-based exercise sessions and takes part in stimulating activities such as dominoes, crosswords and knitting to encourage mobility and build people’s strength while they are in hospital.
She also supports new volunteers to get started on the wards and helps at the monthly Bay Dementia Hub, Bay Dementia Network and Freshers Young Onset Cafes.
David Wilkinson, Director of People and Organisational Development, UHMBT, said: “A huge congratulations to Louise who has gone above and beyond to provide a great experience of our hospitals for our patients, their families and carers.”
Barry Rigg, Head of Inclusion and Diversity (Service), UHMBT, added: “Volunteers play an essential role in the way we provide care. Volunteers bring a wealth of experience, time, and commitment to our hospital services, our hospital RVS volunteers make a unique contribution to patients, carers, and staff at UHMBT. We recognise that our volunteers are an essential resource that helps us achieve our vision while supporting and enhance the patient’s and public experience and perception of our hospitals.
“As an organisation we value the time, energy, and enthusiasm which our volunteers give to us and we recognise the important contribution our hospital Royal Voluntary Service volunteers make to our organisation.”
Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest voluntary service organisations in the country. We inspire and enable 25,000 volunteers to give their skills, experience, energy and time to help people in need in hospitals, at home and in the community.
The Royal Voluntary Service is celebrating its 80th birthday this year.