Hospital Volunteer Ben helps people to stay in touch with loved ones

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Ben Weller, 20, was completing his first year of university when he found himself studying back home in lockdown.

Ben wanted to fill his time and give something back to the community, so he got in touch with Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust to see if he could volunteer for a few months.

He said: "My parents both work in the NHS and I've been brought up always to appreciate its role. When I found the opportunity at the hospital I thought it was a great way to develop myself and give something back."

Ben was keen to get started as soon as possible to help with anything asked, in particular ensuring that wards have iPads so that video calls can be made between patients and their loved ones.

He helped set up Facetime and Skype on the iPads and then organised their distribution to wards, departments and patients throughout the Trust.

He said: "That was a really important thing we wanted to set up in order to keep that ability for families to stay in contact with their loved ones."

Ben added: "It was absolutely amazing experience, to see the looks on people's faces and hearing stories from staff about how the video call facilities were helping patients."

Nikki, Voluntary Services Manager at the Trust said: "This is just one example of where his skills have been an absolute asset to the team, Ben truly is a wonderful volunteer. We have had some amazing people volunteer at the Trust during the pandemic, by either providing their skills and time at the hospital or by supporting us remotely.

Ben managed to juggle his time between studying and volunteering; he was able to volunteer for three days a week during lockdown and has now secured a permanent role at the Trust.

He said: "My volunteering experience was absolutely fantastic. I used my experience of being a volunteer to apply for a bank role late august and I am still working at the hospital now."

"I was really keen to take on more responsibilities and my role now continues to support patients and staff across the Trust."

Ben added finally: "The highlight of my experience has been coming home every day and knowing what I've done has had a positive impact on those people's lives."

Chief Executive of Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS FT, Karen James OBE said, "Things have been very different recently and we are so very proud of how our volunteers have continued to support us and provide much needed assistance at a very challenging time for the NHS. I would personally like to say thank you to Ben and all of our volunteers who make our Trust complete. "

Tameside Council Executive Leader, Cllr Brenda Warrington, said: "Ben's story is so inspiring. This is truly brilliant example of proud Tameside actions, and I would encourage everyone to do their bit by sticking to coronavirus restrictions, helping to protect each other and keeping our amazing front line staff safe so they can continue to carry out their vital roles."

For more information and guidance go to www.tameside.gov.uk/coronavirus