Friends of ANCHOR is looking to grow its “Welcome Team”, whose job it is to greet each person arriving in the ANCHOR Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for outpatient treatment or medical appointments.
The volunteers are on hand to offer a warm welcome and conversation to help put people at ease as they arrive for appointments, as well as helping patients complete an essential screening questionnaire.
Head of Wellbeing at Friends of ANCHOR, Vicki Youngson, said: “Our volunteers are often the first person a patient will speak to when they arrive for their appointment that day. Walking into the ANCHOR Unit for treatment or a visit with your clinical team can feel daunting, but our friendly volunteers are always there with a smile, willing to lend a helping hand.
“Within the outpatient department of the ANCHOR Unit there are several different wards and clinics, so to keep our welcome service going, we need more people to come forward and sign up.
The service has been running for six weeks, and with up to 120 patients seen per day throughout the department, Friends of ANCHOR’s Welcome Team takes some of the pressure off NHS staff, with the essential questionnaires coordinated by the charity’s volunteers.
“Some of our volunteers have gone through treatment themselves, so understand the positive impact that a friendly face and warm hello can have during those first appointments which can feel particularly daunting,” added Ms Youngson.
One such volunteer is Aileen Rennie, 59, who’s retired and lives in Ellon.
Aileen said: “Because I’ve been through cancer, I wanted to give something back to help the people going through it at the moment. Some people arriving for their appointments welcome the opportunity to chat and like to discuss their treatment, and I can relate because I’ve been through it.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as giving a warm smile and hello, and that in itself can be enough to make someone feel less anxious. Many people are in every day or every week for treatment, so you get to know a lot of familiar faces.
“I would really encourage people to sign up, as the support makes a valuable difference and gives the professionals in the NHS more time to do their jobs.”
Friends of ANCHOR initially mobilised a team of volunteers in November 2020 to carry out a similar service in the hospital’s radiotherapy department, with a friendly hello, directions advice and temperature checks among the list of duties. This has continued to run, welcoming around 80 - 90 patients a day. Collectively, the groups volunteer 105 hours of their time from Monday to Friday each week.
Friends of ANCHOR is looking for people over the age of 18 to take on a 3 ½ hour shift weekly or fortnightly. No experience is necessary, and a full induction will be provided, as well as quarterly training sessions from the charity team.