(Thursday, 2 November 2023)
Their friendly smiles are a welcome sight for patients and visitors to Wairau Hospital.
As the main doors open, the reception team are ready and waiting to help calm fears and ease anxieties.
Now this welcoming team of volunteers has been officially recognised for their efforts, collectively being named as Volunteer Marlborough’s Volunteer of the Month award.
Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough Coordinator Jo Moon says volunteers are “far more than just a smiling face at the front desk.”
“These wonderful people volunteer because they want to give back or pay it forward. They enjoy working in the community and supporting a service that supports and appreciates them as well.”
The volunteers work at Te Whatu Ora however are provided and supported by Hospice Marlborough through the hospice volunteer programme. Hospice Marlborough Volunteer Coordinator Jacinda McKenzie says, “this is a heartwarming ongoing collaboration between Hospice Marlborough, Churchill Specialist Hospital and Wairau Hospital”.
“Members of our valued volunteer programme help to deliver information and advice on the location of services within the hospital such as the café and chapel. Hospice Marlborough was absolutely thrilled to hear of the recognition for the team” Jacinda says.
Te Whatu Ora volunteers provide information or advice on the location of services within the hospital such as the cafe and chapel. For many being at the hospital can be a daunting time, Jo says.
“Simply showing up to the hospital can be a daunting prospect for some people. So, there is a wonderful and friendly team of people who take turns behind the information desk, right inside the front entrance, to greet people with a smile and make them feel a bit more at ease.”
The last year has seen plenty of changes for the team as they returned to their roles post Covid. Infection prevention and visitor limits have seen the volunteers adapt well, says Jo.
“The team provide non-clinical advice, information, and support to patients and their families in a very demanding hospital. They try to make a difference in someone’s day, knowing that people can be extremely unwell, confused, injured, upset, concerned, and that the anxiety and stress that comes along with that can be overwhelming for some. They’re also there to support staff. This may be in the form of a wee joke, or a brief chat to support professional staff in what can be a very busy and overwhelming day.”
Giving back to the community and providing peace of mind is at the heart of why volunteers donate their time.
For some visitors, the person at the reception desk may be one of the only people someone talks to all day, says volunteer Vonnie Waddington. “I just like being friendly. Sometimes I might be the only person they talk to all day.”
“I spent quite a long time in the hospital about 10 years ago and wanted to give something back in return,” says Kaye Eccersall.
The Hospice Marlborough volunteers that help out at the hospital’s information desk all have excellent communication skills, patience, empathy, and an appreciation of what people might need from them.
“We are so thankful that the team support our community. It really is about first impressions and friendships,” says Jo.
Meg Martin from Volunteer Marlborough says the team are all an asset to the Marlborough community.
‘We are lucky to have you. Thank you to New World Blenheim for sponsoring our Volunteer of the Month Award.”
This article was written by Paula Hulburt, Editor of the Marlborough Weekly and Marlborough App and has been shared with permission. The original article can be found Smiles and support celebrated | Marlborough App
Photo: Back row, from left, Jo Moon, Kaye Eccersall, Heather Goulter, Sue Plummer, Jackie Browning, Vonnie Waddington, Nita Croad. Front row, from left, Bev Harford, Vicki Cowdrey, Marilyn Kerekere and Gwen Scammell. Photo: Supplied