Chitra, Steward support

Chitra has been volunteering to support her local community since the start of the pandemic.

Responding to the urgent call to help those most vulnerable, Chitra signed up as a Check In and Chat Volunteer. She played a crucial role in supporting others, offering invaluable telephone support and companionship. To support the monumental COVID vaccination rollout, she became a Steward Volunteer completing shifts at local vaccination sites, helping keep her community safe.

"The pandemic was a difficult time for everyone. There was lots of fear, uncertainty, and social isolation. My husband is asthmatic, and my son is severely disabled, so both were advised to shield, which meant I had to shield as well. It was a lonely time and I felt isolated and helpless. I knew people were struggling, and I wanted to do something to help, I wanted to play my part.

"When the COVID-19 vaccination programme was announced in early 2021, I stepped forward as a Steward Volunteer, completing shifts at my local vaccination sites. Shifts involved helping clinical staff with practical tasks like queue management and keeping the sites safe and sanitized, so they could focus on the task at hand. I was so happy to be out in the community and see people face-to-face.

"It feels great being able to support others - whether it’s reassuring people who were nervous, offering friendly conversation, or helping to answer questions or concerns they may have.

"As a Volunteer Responder, you can choose the activity and style of volunteering that fits your life and lifestyle.

"People are often surprised to learn that I volunteer on top of work and raising a child with disabilities. But I believe volunteering is for everyone. There are so many flexible volunteering options to suit any schedule or ability level. I’ve been able to volunteer on weekends and after work.

"I’d encourage anyone to give volunteering a go.

"Having a disabled child has actually helped me as a volunteer. My son is nonverbal and so we use sign language to communicate. This has helped me communicate and connect with people as a volunteer. During Steward shifts at my local vaccination sites, I have been able to use sign language to offer support and guidance to people who are hearing impaired or otherwise disabled.

"Volunteering with NHS and Care Volunteer Responders is easy. I have been well-supported throughout my journey. Any training I’ve needed has been provided and it’s been a great opportunity to learn new skills, meet people, and give back to my community.

"When we speak about volunteering, we often look at the benefits it has to the people being supported, but I believe it goes both ways. Volunteering has enriched my life, improved my wellbeing, and even helped my career.

"In a recent conversation with my manager, I learned that one of the reasons I was hired over other candidates was because of my volunteering experience. Working in the medical field and having volunteered as an NHS and Care Volunteer Responder Steward demonstrated that I spend my time proactively and am passionate about health and helping others.

"For young people, volunteering can be a brilliant way to get your foot in the door to your chosen field. It can be difficult getting a job without relevant experience, but volunteering can be a great starting point."

Find out about Steward Volunteer activities

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