The Rt Worshipful the Mayor, Cllr Harry Ellis and Mayoress Mrs Janet Ellis, have shown their support to a scheme launched by The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.
The Trust has launched its own befriending scheme to provide patients with additional support and companionship during their stay in hospital, and The Mayor of Wakefield Metropolitan District, Cllr Ellis, was the guest of honour at the opening event.
“I was delighted when I was asked to attend the launch,” said Cllr Ellis who has also committed to provide his support for the next year. “Having befrienders on wards is a great idea and I have no doubt they will become an integral part of the teams they work with.”
Run by the Voluntary Services team at the Trust, the befriender scheme is initially being rolled out on the elderly wards at Pinderfields hospital and will see up to four befrienders helping out on each shift.
Gwen Shackelton, Voluntary Services Co-ordinator at the Trust, has been instrumental in setting up the scheme, she said: “Ward befrienders play a vital role in the recovery of patients. As well as providing a listening ear, companionship and being a confidante they can assist with things such as feeding; helping to provide patients with the correct nutrition and ensure they stay hydrated.
“A stay in hospital can be a lonely time for many, especially if you have no family or friends and having a befriender spend time with you can make all the difference, helping to lift your mood and facilitate the recovery process.”
Ward befrienders will also be able to refer patients to community based befriending services such as Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society, once they have been discharged from hospital.
Some of the ward befrienders who attended the launch.
There are also tremendous benefits to the volunteer befrienders. They can develop both their communication and interpersonal skills, and it can also be a great way to gain experience of working in a healthcare setting for those who wish to pursue a career in the NHS or a community based healthcare setting.
Keshia Withers is one of the new volunteer befrienders at the Trust, she said: “I became a volunteer because I felt that a career within the Allied Health Professions may be for me. My experience thus far has cemented this belief.
“Being part of the befriender scheme is a privilege and an intensely rewarding experience. It gives a valuable and unique insight into careers within a hospital setting and I learn something new every day.
"The satisfaction of being able to make a difference on a personal level is incredibly fulfilling and the scope for personal growth is infinite. I cannot recommend the role highly enough.”
The Trust currently has 90 befrienders, but is always ready to welcome more. If you’re aged 17 and over and think you have what it takes then contact Gwen Shackelton, Voluntary Services Co-ordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or Voluntary Services at email@example.com