18 August 2020
Three hospital volunteers have shared their experiences of operating the Royal Free Hospital scrubs distribution station after COVID-19 lockdown left them with spare time on their hands.
Harry Taylor, Richard Sugar and Rui Mendes all have busy working lives - however lockdown has meant that they are either furloughed or working from home. They used this opportunity to support their local community by volunteering at the hospital.
Harry Taylor, 27 from Gospel Oak, works as a sub editor at the Guardian. He said: “I was sitting at home wanting to help and looking for a way to make a difference. Even doing something small means that you’re part of the overall contribution. When I saw that the hospital was looking for volunteers on Twitter it seemed like the perfect opportunity, helping my local hospital.
“I found it really helpful during the early stages of lockdown. When you’re working from home the days can blend into one, and this has helped me to keep some structure. It’s been so good to be able to leave the house, see staff as they come on shift and be part of the team giving out scrubs.”
Richard Sugar, 31 from East Finchley, works for Nuffield Health but is currently furloughed. He added: “I wanted to do something local, something for the NHS. It has been really great becoming part of the team and engaging with the NHS staff. When you’re quite isolated during lockdown it’s nice to have an opportunity to meet people and have that friendly day to day chat.”
For Rui Mendes, 41 from Islington, coming into the hospital meant a break from his hairdressing career of twenty years. He said: “It’s a very different role, but there are a lot of similarities. You are dealing with people on a daily basis and you just need to be friendly and cheerful. I really enjoyed the experience of getting to know the doctors and the nurses.
“Since starting volunteering I have actually had the realisation that I would love to join the team full time, and I am now looking for a role within the hospital.”
The three men also shared their appreciation for the team that welcomed and supported them, and in particular gave thanks to RFH support services team leader Stephen Downer. Stephen worked closely with the volunteers throughout their time at the hospital, and helped them to settle in to their new roles.
Stephen said: “I am so grateful to these three volunteers, who have been with us since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. Over the past few months that they have manned the scrubs distribution station, everyone has been greeted with a smile. Now that their role with the hospital will shortly be coming to an end, I would like to express my gratitude for their service.”
Now that lockdown is easing and more workplaces are reopening, many hospital volunteers will be leaving the hospital – but their contribution has left a real mark, helping hospital staff to get through the toughest part of the pandemic.