Volunteer stories

22 October 2014

The Royal Free London has 600 volunteers working across our three sites, in 57 different roles. Learn more about being a volunteer.

If you would like to volunteer at Barnet Hospital or Chase Farm Hospital, please contact Vishu Sharma on 020 8216 4449. If you would like to find out more about volunteering please visit our volunteering pages: https://www.royalfreecharity.org/get-involved/volunteering.

Find out more about some of our volunteers by reading their stories below.

Maria Cortese

Volunteer Maria Cortese

“I started to volunteer at Chase Farm Hospital three years ago, I come along every Wednesday at around 4 o’clock and volunteer on the Bromley and Capetown wards. I usually help by serving food, collecting dishes and feeding the patients if they have difficulties. A lot of the patients are around the same age as me and so they like to chat with me, it makes them feel more comfortable. I was a care assistant for Enfield Council for 27 years and I feel as if I have not really retired yet and that I have to do something still to help other people. It’s nice to give a little and the staff and patients here really appreciate it.”


Elaine Harris


Volunteer Elaine Harris

“I work at the Royal Free Hospital three days a week in a ‘front of house’ role, meeting and greeting patients as they arrive and directing them to where they need to go. I actually worked at the Royal Free for 20 years as an administrator and following my retirement three years ago I took two weeks holiday before returning as a volunteer! I wanted to be with people, helping them, rather than working at a computer.

"I started by serving teas, coffees and lunches on the wards and also undertook dementia training and a patient feeding course, but then my knowledge of the hospital was called upon when the check-in kiosks were introduced. I was asked to be on-hand to support patients in using the kiosks but I soon found there was a greater need to direct and escort patients to the place they needed to be. My most memorable moment was when a lady came through the main doors in an advanced state of labour, there really was the possibility that she would give birth right there and then! I had to act very fast to get her in the lift and up to maternity, I’m sure she must have given birth only a minute or two after I handed her over to the midwife.

"One of the nice parts of volunteering is getting to know regular outpatients. I have become friends with some of them and when, on occasion, they have been admitted, then I’ve been able to go and visit them on the wards. I’ve also become close friends with many of the other volunteers.

"It’s so satisfying to know at the end of the day that in a small way I’ve been able to help so many people.”


Volunteer David DellMonica and David Dell


David: “I was a patient at the Royal Free Hospital in 2010 and after my treatment here I wanted to give something back. I now volunteer here with Monica every Wednesday afternoon. I volunteer on ward 7 West, working with the sister and some of the nurses who treated me. My role involves assisting the ward clerk with admin support and spending time giving teas, coffees and chatting to patients. I can really relate to the patients as I’ve been through the same thing myself and I’m here to tell the tale!”

Volunteer Monica DellMonica: “I started volunteering with a mix of roles - the shop trolley, tea trolley, chatting to patients, doing surveys - and now I work on the first floor information desk, helping patients find the right clinic. My most memorable moment was when someone collapsed right in front of the desk and I had to quickly call the crash team! The best thing about volunteering here is how appreciated you are, the staff are brilliant and they can’t thank you enough, we are even treated to an annual volunteers party and a Christmas party! It’s rewarding, the satisfaction of giving something back makes it so worthwhile.”


Arvind Taylor


Volunteer Arvind Taylor

"I spent 40 years working in retail and when I took early retirement I wanted to continue to work with people and make a difference. I volunteer at Barnet Hospital on Walnut and Beech wards and also in rheumatology. I help out wherever I can but make time to chat to the patients. When I receive a smile from a patient it's worth a million dollars!"