We are incredibly proud to announce that Sixth Form student Maisy, one of the NHS’s ‘most outstanding volunteers’ has won the ‘Young Volunteer of the Year’ award at the national Helpforce Champions Awards 2019.
Maisy, who is studying A-Levels in Chemistry, Biology and German, volunteers every Wednesday afternoon at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, supporting dementia patients. In an interview with the Daily Mail, she said:
“As part of our school curriculum, there’s an enrichment programme where you can choose to do non-academic activities in school time — last year, I began volunteering at the Royal Cornwall Hospital to find out how the NHS works, as I was quite interested in studying medicine.
It’s been an amazing experience, and I think the time I’ve spent volunteering has really helped me mature.
It may be surprising, given my age, that I chose to volunteer with dementia patients, but I spend a lot of time with my grandparents and feel you can learn so much from older people. I thought it was where I’d be of the most use.
I play board games with the patients and make cups of tea — but, mostly, I’ll just sit and listen to them talk. Lots of the dementia patients love to talk to someone young and, very often, it triggers memories of their own youth.
They may not remember much about what they’ve done recently, but they’ll have very clear memories of what they were doing at 17.
I find it fascinating to hear about their lives — some of them are war veterans and others have talked about what rationing was like.
Getting them to engage is very rewarding and I think it helps their confidence, too. I love the feeling of achievement when I leave, because the people I’ve spoken to are usually sitting up a bit straighter and seem chirpier. I feel I’ve done some good.
I’ve sometimes been mistaken by patients for their mum or daughter, but I don’t correct them, as it often agitates them — and there is no harm in letting them think that.
It can be challenging work, but I’ve been taught techniques to calm patients down — such as changing the subject and getting them engaged in something else.
My volunteering work — two hours every Wednesday afternoon — has taught me patience, and I’ve learnt how to actively listen to people, using eye contact and open-ended questions to engage people in conversation. I’ve also met such a wide range of people from different backgrounds.
I love being a member of such an amazing team. It’s all confirmed for me that I want to work in a field where I can help people, so I’m applying to Manchester University to study disaster management and humanitarian relief.
We live in very turbulent times, and I think these skills are going to be needed more and more. What I’ve experienced here is priceless.”
Talking about Maisy, the Helpforce Charity stated:
“Maisy, who is studying for her A Levels in Chemistry, Biology and German, is one of our most outstanding volunteers. As a trained dementia support volunteer, she visits patients, uses our activity trolley, and chats with them. This can be challenging as patients with more advanced dementia can be difficult to communicate with. Maisy copes admirably, engaging in a positive way with patients and showing great empathy. She has a natural kindness and a friendly personality which shines through.
Maisy has helped mentor new volunteers, and was recently featured in Charity Today as part of the Helpforce workshop team of young volunteers.
She is working towards medical school and she would like to join the British Army as a doctor and hopefully do some NGO work too. Maisy is also an avid campaigner for sustainability and the protection of our planet. She is a truly incredible young volunteer and we are very proud to nominate her.”
A very well deserved award and an inspiration to all, well done Maisy!