Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Finalists revealed for Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award

THE finalists have been revealed and voting is now open for the Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award category at the 2024 Our Health Heroes Awards, delivered by Skills for Health.

Volunteer yoga instructor Paul Fox, Liverpool Women’s Hospital volunteer Rezmin Islam and volunteer drug and alcohol worker Tracy Spencer are this year’s three finalists.

Voting will open for 2 weeks to decide who will scoop the bronze, silver and gold awards:

Meet the finalists:

Paul Fox | Yoga4NHS

Since January 2023, Paul Fox has voluntarily delivered the Yoga4NHS wellbeing programme to 376 NHS staff.

The initiative has been enthusiastically welcomed by NHS managers, who are grappling with high levels of sickness, absence and staff turnover in the wake of the pandemic.

The Yoga4NHS staff wellbeing programme is evidence-based, and Paul and colleagues achieved accreditation from the Royal College of General Practitioners, enabling staff who complete the course to claim CPD points. Feedback has been excellent.

One NHS worker said:

“Please can these sessions be prescribed and made available for all NHS staff, who regularly ignore their own needs and prioritise the needs of others.”

Another said:

“Thank you for this wonderful course.”

In addition to delivering free yoga sessions for NHS staff, Paul also played a key role in developing and growing the Yoga4Health social prescribing patient programme, helping to train over 500 teachers who will deliver yoga sessions up and down the country to aid patient recovery.

Heather Mason, Founder of the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance charity, is encouraging people to vote for Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award finalist Paul:

“Understanding the deep pressure placed on the NHS even before Covid and certainly during and after it, and with a deep respect for the people who make up this incredible institution, Paul Fox has been offering free yoga classes to staff. Given that yoga reduces stress, improves mood and is beneficial for overall health, he felt this offering could significantly improve their wellbeing. His unwavering commitment to this cause continues through various channels. Based on this deeply commendable voluntary work for NHS staff, Paul is fully deserving of this award, and I implore people to vote for him.”

Rezmin Islam | Liverpool Women’s Hospital

Rezmin started volunteering at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in October 2022.

Despite running her own online retail business and caring for her 3 children, she manages to volunteer twice a week in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Maternity and Gynaecology Service, supporting staff, patients and visitors.

Rezmin helps those who do not speak English as their first language to access hospital services, supporting them to understand the difference in practices between the NHS and their own cultures.

Recently, Rezmin helped a mum in distress who’d gone into early labour.

Concerned about the lady’s wellbeing, Rezmin helped put her at ease, allowing her to talk openly in a safe place.

It later transpired that the mum didn’t have anything for the baby, and she didn’t know how to get help. Rezmin responded by approaching the hospital charity, who provided much needed equipment including a pram, Moses basket and baby clothes.

Rezmin supported another Bangladeshi couple during labour and birth earlier this year, keeping the husband fully informed throughout. The husband said, without Rezmin the process would have been unbearable, especially when his wife was rushed to theatre.

Gillian Walker, Patient Experience Matron said:

“Rezmin is one of our most reliable and valuable volunteers. 

“She is dedicated to supporting our women and babies and works extremely hard when on duty to relieve pressures on staff, which can significantly improve their working day and wellbeing. 

“The wealth of cultural knowledge that she brings and shares, has undoubtedly enhanced the experience for many of our service users from marginalised backgrounds. She is such a pleasure to have on the ward, always smiling, graceful, kind and caring. We are blessed to have her.”

Tracy Spencer | WithYou – North Lincolnshire

Tracy Spencer, who has overcome her own struggles with alcohol use, has been volunteering with the charity WithYou for the last 6 years.

As a volunteer, Tracy is a visible recovery advocate who helps those who are struggling with alcohol addiction and drugs.

Tracy said:

“I was in a very low place back in 2016 and reached out to WithYou for support to help me with my drinking.

“I started by attending all the sessions I could to get me on the right track. It wasn’t easy but with pure determination and wanting to do this for myself I stuck with it.

“I am now seven years alcohol-free and very proud but without the support from WithYou I really don’t think I would be where I am today.” 

It was Tracy’s experience of receiving support from WithYou that made her want to give something back and work as a volunteer.

Tracy added:

“I love doing what I do. Helping others in a similar situation to myself, giving my advice and helping in any way I can. I help run support groups, 1 to 1 phone calls and face to face. I’m still learning myself and call WithYou my safe place.”

Kate House, Head of Service Delivery for WithYou in North Lincolnshire said:

“Tracy brightens up the day of so many people in our service and is always cheerful and happy.

“She is a comforting face for all our clients when they come through the door. She inspires all the people she meets in groups and one-to-ones. Tracy’s kind, caring and generous nature shines through when talking to clients.

“Tracy openly shares her inspiring story of her recovery to support others. Over the years it has been amazing to watch Tracy develop as a volunteer; she truly inspires everyone she meets. Tracy has set up and continues to develop the craft group and runs the walking group, rain or shine. Tracy supports and encourages people to attend the groups her enthusiasm never waivers.”

Catherine Johnstone CBE, CEO of Royal Voluntary Service, commented:

“We are delighted to support Our Health Heroes Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award 2024.

“It is vital that we recognise the excellent efforts of volunteers across the NHS and healthcare sector.

“These awards offer a great opportunity to show our appreciation for the truly incredible people whose contribution and dedication makes such a huge difference every day to patients, carers, staff and the wider health care and community.”

The Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards is sponsored by NHS England, NHS Employers, NHS Shared Business Services and more. Gold, silver and bronze Healthcare Volunteer of the Year Award winners will be announced at a special ceremony held in London on 16th April.

Cast your vote here:


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