Recognisable in their distinctive orange t-shirts or lanyards, the volunteers helped in many ways, from providing emotional and practical support to patients, families and those looking for their loved ones to managing enquiries about donations and distributing items that had been donated.
King’s – as one of the Capital’s four Major Trauma Centres – treated patients from the Westminster Bridge attack, London Bridge and Borough attacks, and the Grenfell Tower fire.
William Kwan, 70, from Brixton Hill, has been a King’s volunteer for a year. The former intensive care nurse, who trained as a hand massage volunteer, spends one afternoon a week at the hospital. Following the Grenfell Tower fire he helped to remove soot from children after they were brought to King’s.
Talking about the part he played, William said, “I was asked to help on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). When I went there, I saw children from the fire covered in soot – it was all over their hands.
“Two of us from the Volunteers’ Service went to the unit and carefully cleaned the hands of four children. We also spoke to their relatives who were visiting at the time. We wanted them to know how much we care.”
Another volunteer who helped following the Grenfell Tower fire was 69-year-old Angela Ingman from East Dulwich. Angela is a former King’s patient and worked for the charity Save the Children for 25 years. After retiring she decided to join the volunteering programme. Angela helped in the effort to reunite patients with their families the day after the fire.
Angela said, “There was an area set up in the hospital for families and friends looking for their loved ones. I helped serve tea and coffee to people who were waiting there for information. They were still shell-shocked from what had happened.
“There was a group of doctors, nurses, chaplains, paediatricians and psychologists in the room with me. We all worked together as a team to take the names of people who had arrived and then crossed-checked them with patients on the wards who were well enough to talk, and managed to reunite people.
“Volunteering at King’s is lovely. The people I help are often worried and anxious, and if I can ease that in any way it’s time well spent.”
Petula Storey, Head of Volunteering at King’s said, “I am proud of the volunteers who have provided support during the recent incidents. They have gone above and beyond their normal role and made such a difference to the patients and their families. We know our volunteers have a choice when it comes to volunteering, so we are honoured to have them as part of our team at King’s.”
King’s College Hospital was recently awarded a grant from Nesta, the innovation foundation, to encourage volunteering among the over 50s. With this funding, the hospital is looking to recruit more volunteers over 50 to help in the Emergency Department. For details of how to volunteer at King’s, or to request further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 020 3299 5510 or visit https://www.kch.nhs.uk/about/get-involved/volunteering.