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He aha te mea nui o te Ao?  He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world?  It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.  

It’s National Volunteer week and we are incredibly fortunate to have a team of more than 450 volunteers, who generously choose to gift their time and talents to help our hospitals in many different ways each week.  In the last 12 months all our volunteers have shown great patience and resilience as they have been stood down several times due to changing COVID alert levels in our hospitals.  Huge thanks to them all! 

This week we are delighted to introduce you to some of our hospital guides who assist more than 36,000 visitors to our hospitals every year.  They clock up many miles walking around Wellington or Kenepuru Hospitals, helping patients and visitors navigate the confusing maze of buildings so that they can get to their appointments on time. 

Derek is one of our volunteer elder-statesmen, and started guiding for the hospital more than 18 years ago! He explained that it was by happy accident that he joined the team, “I was typing the church newsletter and one of the items I had to put in was a call for volunteer guides – who could be men!  Prior to that the only hospital volunteers were pink ladies and I didn’t meet the criteria for that!”  While starting may have been accidental, staying on was certainly not and Derek enjoys his volunteer service to the hospital telling us that being a hospital guide “Is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done and I always see people I know.”  He’s missed the team during the COVID stand down and told us that it left a big gap in his weekly routine.

Derek joined our Kenepuru Volunteer Guide family in 2018.  They say that good often comes of bad, and so it was for us!  Derek had taken a tumble at home and broken his little finger.  On arrival at Kenepuru Hospital to get it treated he was greeted at the door by a friend working as a hospital guide.  His friend urged him to sign up, knowing he’d be a wonderful asset to the team… “And here I am, still enjoying it four years later!”  Derek provides a friendly and reassuring welcome at the main entrance to Kenepuru Hospital.  Not only does his caring manner put patients and visitors at ease, but he also plays an important role in training and mentoring new guides. 

Andrew is a recent addition to the Wellington Hospital guiding team, and brings much enthusiasm and energy to the role.  Even masked you can tell when Andrew’s smiling as he warmly greets patients, visitors and whānau at the volunteer desk.  After suffering a serious accident in 2003, he was left fighting for his life and required major surgery and intensive care at Wellington Hospital.  An extensive period of residential rehabilitation was then needed to get him back on his feet again.   Andrew told us that he was extremely grateful for the good care he received during that difficult time, “I feel that volunteering here is the least that I can do as a way to ‘give back’ and show my gratitude for the fabulous work that Wellington Hospital did for me.”  Our volunteers often join us, like Andrew, after a personal experience of care and treatment in our hospitals, as a way to express their gratitude and to help others. 

Vinny and Vanaja are our first ever husband and wife guiding-duo, joining the team a little over a year ago.  Semi-retired professionals, the couple now enjoy the experience of volunteering together.  Pre-Covid they enjoyed travelling to new places and trying the local cuisines.  Vanaja is also a mad keen gardener.  With friendly, calm and reassuring manners Vinny and Vanaja are a very welcome new addition to the Wellington Hospital volunteer guiding team.  “We like volunteering at the hospital because we meet volunteers and people from all walks of life and we can help them at a time they may be stressed or anxious. Most people are very grateful for the assistance we give them and we find that very rewarding.”  

Pamela is a British Kiwi, having immigrated to New Zealand 16 years ago.  Pamela joined our volunteer family after the first COVID lockdown. “I know I am not alone when I say that COVID and the lockdowns gave me time and the opportunity to think about what matters.  I decided that I wanted to give some of my time to volunteering and be somewhere where I could be helpful.”  Pamela initially joined the team as a volunteer in the Transit Lounge.  This is a comfortable place for patients who have been discharged from hospital to wait for any paperwork to be competed, to see members of the hospital’s extended health care team such as the diabetic nurse or occupational therapist, or for a patient transfer service.  “I enjoyed volunteering in the Transit Lounge where I could provide patients with a little conversation and a friendly face, a cup of tea or coffee and help with lunch.”  With the recent relaxing of orange COVID restrictions at the hospital we are fortunate that Pamela has also been able to try her hand as a Hospital Guide. “It’s been fun meeting and helping patients to get to their appointments and interesting seeing more of the hospital, with the added bonus that I can breeze my daily fitness steps!  It doesn’t matter if you only have three hours free to volunteer a week, there is no pressure, you can do as much or as little as you want. I find my weekly visit to the hospital personally fulfilling knowing that this time is valued by patients and visitors.”

Murray is another of our long standing volunteers, joining the Kenepuru Volunteer Guide family five years ago after retiring from the fuel industry.  He’d seen a poster about volunteering and thought it would be great for him to get out and about and meet people as he lives alone.  “I enjoy working in pairs as it gives me some company and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends.” Murray is a fabulous asset to the team and generously gifts his time to volunteer twice a week.  With a friendly and approachable manner, he is happy to help wherever he is needed.

We are so fortunate to have all our volunteers helping in our hospitals. Interested in volunteering with us?  See more HERE.