HARD-WORKING volunteers are being celebrated as they return to hospitals for the first time since the pandemic began.

The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating over 200 dedicated people who give their time up as part of Volunteers Week.

Although many were unable to continue volunteering during the height of the pandemic, with hospitals returning to regular service, this has meant a welcome return for the volunteers.

Wilma Smart has been volunteering at Broomfield Hospital for the past 20 years.

The 76-year-old said: “I do really enjoy my role; I wouldn’t still be here doing it if I didn’t. When I retired I wanted to do something to help keep me active, and this has been perfect.

“I’ve had both vaccines, so as soon as there was the opportunity to come back, I did. I felt ready and comfortable with all the precautions in place.

“It is just nice to be back making a difference for people. You meet some lovely people doing this role and patients are so appreciative of the help we give them.

“If I can take a little bit of stress out of someone’s hospital visit, then I’ve had a good day.”

Read more:

Volunteers could work for a few hours or days a week, but all make a impact in their areas.

Jobs include welcoming patients, working in a charity shop, and driving patients to their appointments.

Jane O’Connell, volunteers’ manager for the Trust, said: “We’ve such a lovely group of volunteers, and they are making a huge positive difference, for both patients and staff.

“They are real lifeblood across our hospitals and bring so much energy and passion to their roles. It’s wonderful to have so many of them back.”