Spinal injury patients supported by their friends at RJAH – League of Friends

Posted on 7 June 2022

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A cohort of volunteers at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) are busy dedicating their time to support patients on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI). 

The League of Friends volunteers – known as Ward Friends – are a key part of the multi-disciplinary ward team and provide general, non-clinical support to spinal injury patients. 

A Ward Friend is on hand to provide companionship and support to patients, some of whom are in hospital for a long period of time. The role is about proactively engaging and interacting with patients, sitting with those who may be anxious or need a listening ear. 

The role was introduced shortly before the pandemic but due to Covid-19 restrictions has had long periods of suspension – volunteers are now settling into their regular volunteering commitment.  

Hannah Richards, MCSI Ward Manager, said: “We are delighted to have the Ward Friends back in full swing – the pandemic has been difficult for our patients, with limited visits from friends and family, so a regular visit from a friendly volunteer goes a long way. 

“The volunteers make such a valuable contribution to the ward – supporting with non-clinical jobs allows nurses and other healthcare professionals to dedicate their time to clinical duties.” 

The main duties carried out include facilitating activities, running errands, operating the hot beverage trolley, or fulfilling basic shopping requests. It also includes providing basic support and encouragement to patients around mealtime. 

Heather Thomas-Bache, Head of Volunteers for the Friends, said: “We’re thrilled to have our volunteers back on the ward fulltime – we’re currently covering the ward from 10:30am until 6:30pm every weekday. 

“This is an incredibly fulfilling role, and we encourage anyone interested in joining our team to get in touch.” 

This fantastic opportunity is also open to those wishing to join the Friends youth volunteering programme – Future Friends. 

Jenny Xiao has recently joined the programme and has begun volunteering as a Ward Friend.  

She said: “This is a great opportunity for those wishing to gain first-hand experience in a hospital setting. 

“I’m currently preparing for my A-levels and hope to go on to study medicine at university. This role is not only rewarding but will help to develop key skills to take into my future career.” 

If you are interested in volunteering and becoming a Ward Friend, please contact Heather by: 

For further information on the Future Friends volunteering programme, you can visit the dedicated website – https://futurefriendsrjah.org.uk/

Photo caption: Ward Friend volunteer Erica Moss and MCSI patient Jamie Cooke.

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