A week in the life of a student volunteer
Healthwatch Cheshire won the Student's Choice Award 2018 at the University of Chester. This award allows student volunteers to recognise organisations that have provided an outstanding student volunteering experience.
Last year 4,700 volunteers gave up their time to help their local Healthwatch across the country to make a difference to health and social care in their community. With more and more young people volunteering with Healthwatch, we spoke to one of our student volunteers, Jannat, to find out more about what she does.
I started volunteering with Healthwatch Cheshire because it gave me an opportunity to speak to people across the area and improve my communication, team working and customer service skills. I love the fact that I’m able to help others as a volunteer. Listening to someone can make all the difference, as I may be the only person they see or speak with. If changes are made as a result of the work I’ve done or the Healthwatch team have done, it’s great to see the benefit to others.
Volunteering with Healthwatch is flexible, so I can choose when I volunteer to fit around my university work. This week, although I have my dissertation to do I also have plenty of free time, so I'm going to volunteer lots and hopefully gain my volunteering award from the University of Chester.
It’s a university day and I’m preparing my 15,000 word dissertation for my Masters in Public Health. It’s been a hard but really rewarding course that is coming to an end.
I’ve also been in touch with my volunteer coordinator at Healthwatch as there are activities I want to be involved with this week – they send me the calendar of events so I can see what’s happening.
I’m at the local hospital carrying out a survey in the Accident and Emergency department for four hours. I’m wearing my identity card and have a display stand where people can find out about Healthwatch Cheshire. They can also share their comments, concerns and compliments with me. I really enjoy this as it gives me the chance to listen to people’s experiences and understand how they feel. Being an overseas student from Bangladesh, it’s amazing to hear how people value services here.
After volunteering it’s back to university to speak with my tutor about a few issues, then home for some more studying before I go to work in a local restaurant.
I’m at the Healthwatch Cheshire head office today, as I volunteered to do some administration work. It’s a team effort between me and the staff at Healthwatch. This provides a great chance for me to see how an office works, and the interaction between colleagues and the public. It also gives me an insight into what is causing people concerns and how they are being addressed.
I have a full day with Healthwatch but today we are being trained on how to visit health and social care services. One of the reasons I chose to volunteer with Healthwatch was the large variety of training and experiences on offer. Being able to visit services is great because it means we have the right to observe care standards, speak to patients and staff and then give our recommendations for improvement.
The training is interesting and teaches me about my responsibilities as a volunteer when it comes to issues like confidentiality. It also helps me develop skills such as report writing and teaches me about the different services available in our area.
This was a great opportunity to meet other volunteers. The age range and diversity of the group reflected the community we volunteer in, including young, elderly, people with disabilities, and from different cultures. After the training, I feel like I have the confidence to deal with people’s questions and concerns.
I’ve volunteered to work at one of the largest local health practices to carry out a survey to find out what people think about self-care, out of hours services and extended opening hours. It’s a great experience – developing new skills, observing how people interact, and gaining people’s confidence to engage with us. This really does provide the community with the chance to make improvements for the better.
These skills and experiences are so important as they will help me through life and in my future work. I’m grateful for the first-hand experiences I’ve had with the local community and have learned a lot as a result.
After a great day volunteering I head back home and add a few more words to finish my dissertation!