Daphne Lees and Chloe Reid, Meet and Greet Volunteers at Out-patients Royal Victoria Hospital

Daphne Lees and Chloe Reid Volunteers

Daphne Lees and Chloe Reid are both Meet and Greet Volunteers, based at Out-patients Royal Victoria Hospital.

Why and when did you become a volunteer?

Chloe:  Once I retired from being a Primary School teacher, I found I had time on my hands. When I originally had been deciding on a career, I wanted to be either a teacher or go into nursing. Volunteering for Belfast Trust provided an opportunity for me to go back and see what I had missed all those years ago.  I went on the website and found the volunteering contact. Five years later I’m still here.
Daphne: I saw a programme on the TV about nurses being so busy, I wanted to help in any way I could. I knew I had the time to help out, so I got in touch with the volunteering co-ordinator who suggested a Meet and Greet role for me.

What does your volunteer role entail?

Chloe: There are 8-10 volunteers covering this particular post. Daphne and I are here every Monday morning. We get here around 8:30am and help for the next three hours. Patients arrive at this reception. Some might be for Out-patients, others might have appointments with different departments. We help direct them to where they need to go.
If they are frail, or a bit confused, we’ll escort them. In just that short time, you can often hear life stories. Some visitors might not speak to someone for days and when they come in they welcome some conversation. If someone has mobility issues, we’ll call for a porter with a wheelchair to get them where they need to go. We also, when necessary, order taxis or can advise on public transport.

Do you enjoy your volunteer role?  What is the most rewarding thing about your volunteering role?

Chloe: It’s certainly very interesting. You never know who might walk through the door and you have to be prepared for all eventualities.
Daphne: I really feel that we are providing a useful service. We have some elderly patients who are particularly worried about visiting a hospital. I’d like to think that when we chat to them, it puts them at ease and they can relax more.
I was told by one visitor that I was their ‘guardian angel’. Things like that make it all worthwhile getting out of bed on a Monday morning. And of course, I enjoy working with Chloe. We’re the best of friends now.

What has volunteering taught you about yourself or working with other people?

Chloe: I’ve always worked with other people throughout my career. I trained to be a nurse and it feels good to be back. The thing that I have learnt most as a volunteer though, is the importance of patience.
Daphne: I used to feel empathy for children as a nurse. Now it’s for all generations. It’s also great to feel part of a team again after retiring.

Do you feel valued as a volunteer?

Daphne: The role we carry out is reasonably simple but we’re made to feel valued. I remember one man who popped across the road and brought us back two cream buns as a ‘thank you’!
Chloe: It’s a rewarding role, especially when they say ‘Thank you for so much’.

What would you say to anyone interested in becoming a volunteer / encourage others to become a volunteer with the Trust?

Daphne: I would say, ‘Definitely do it’.  You get a lot out of helping people. When I retired I was at a bit of a loss, but volunteering reintroduced routine and structure to my life.
Chloe: Volunteering is not just for retired. There is such a wide range of roles on offer across Belfast Trust there is something to suit everyone. But it’s important to remember you have to be committed and reliable. People are counting on you – but it’s good to feel counted.

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