Diary of a Volunteer: Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton

Toby Wyithe is an Analyst at Legal & General and recently volunteered at the newly launched Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) trolley round at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton.

Hospital trolley service volunteers provide a vital service to patients, taking trolleys loaded with reading materials, healthy refreshments, treats, toiletries and other essentials around hospital wards. They make time to stop and chat with patients, helping ease the anxiety and sometimes loneliness experienced during a hospital stay, particularly by older people.

The RVS is only able to provide this vital service once a week on a Friday because Legal & General is willing to release their staff to volunteer. The organisation is also the retirement division’s charity of the year.

Toby said of the experience: “It didn’t take long for it to become abundantly clear how essential volunteering is at places like the Royal Sussex. Although a wonderfully warm and pleasant experience, a support service is a constant uphill struggle when there is a reliance on donations and participants.

After grasping the mechanics of the trolley and understanding how The RVS work with the hospital, both Kate and I jumped at the opportunity to roll our sleeves up and help on the rounds.

As we entered the first ward there was a certain level of confusion as to who these new faces were, but after introducing ourselves and explaining the nature of our wares,  the patients were delighted to have some new visitors and the opportunity for an afternoon treat.

Ward by ward the mood seemed to lift, and by the time we reached the fourth ward, we received a standing ovation from a small group of nurses and a ward staff.

Support manager Kyron revealed that this was the first trolley service for over four years due to lack of funds and volunteers.  The plan was to be able to make the rounds every day but for now it will remain a Friday treat. A ward manager thanked me repeatedly for coming along and raising everyone’s spirits. When Kyron responded that this was because Legal & General had committed to making this happen, a sense of pride came over me.

The ability to take a break, enjoy some treats or walk over to the coffee shop are luxuries to some people that others potentially take for granted. All my previous frustrations seemed like a distant memory and the feeling of making a difference to someone’s day shone through.  

For those of you who haven’t yet volunteered, I would urge you to reconsider. I won’t pretend that you will have an easy afternoon, but the feeling of making a real difference to someone’s day will live with you long after you leave.”

If you want to get in touch to share your volunteering experiences through Legal & General, or wish to get involved, please contact our CSR team via the link below

... because Legal & General had committed to making this happen, a sense of pride came over me.

Toby Wyithe, Analyst at Legal & General

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