A volunteer-run service which transformed the lives of patients across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde throughout the COVID pandemic has been concluded.
The ‘Give and Go’ initiative allowed families and friends to safely hand in comfort items to loved ones whilst they were in hospital. This service was set up in response to the pandemic due to the restrictions in visiting, and since then it has proven a huge success with patients board-wide.
Every week, the service has delivered an average of more than 3000 personal bags to patients in hospitals across the NHSGGC, giving them a taste of home at a time when they were unable to receive visitors.
“We can’t thank them enough,” said Harry Balch, Volunteer Manager with NHSGGC. “Since the service started, these amazing people have come in and put themselves on the front line, even at the height of the second wave and during the worst of weather, to deliver this vital service.
“Their selflessness has been such an inspiration to us all. I know it sounds cheesy, but they are our superheroes.”
Around 330 volunteers have been involved in the service, collecting and delivering personal items such as toiletries, snacks, mobile phones and iPads, books and clothing.
The volunteers’ red T-shirts quickly became a trademark, and patients really looked forward to seeing if the volunteers had a parcel for them.
“The bags families left with us really were packages of love,” said Harry Balch. “We’d get messages saying ‘my dad really loves this particular make of fudge, can you make sure he gets it,’ or ‘I’ve made my mum her favourite tuna sandwich, can you deliver it while it’s fresh’.
“While some of the deliveries were very strange, and unforgettable, it was the little, everyday things – the clean jammies, or the special box of chocolates – that made a difference.”
Margaret Connolly, Assistant Chief Nurse at NHSGGC, who helped roll out the initiative across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “Give and Go played a crucial role in helping us continue to deliver person-centred, compassionate care to patients in the midst of the pandemic.
“The feedback has been wonderful, and it’s brought a smile to thousands of patients in hospital. The Give and Go service couldn’t replace visits from loved ones, but it did go a long way to making patients feel more comfortable during their hospital stay.
“I’d like to thank all the volunteers, staff and volunteer managers who have been involved in the delivery of this vital service, which has proven so valuable to so many.”
Now that the Give and Go service has come to an end, the red-shirt volunteers have left behind a lasting legacy as a direct result of the service.
“I hope the work our volunteers did, and the way they helped us to delivered person-centred care across our sites, will help us to shape volunteering across NHSGGC for years to come,” said Harry.
“We can’t thank them enough for the work they did. I and so many of my colleagues will never forget them.”
And the good news? Many of the Give and Go volunteers will be start to return to previous volunteer roles and indeed new roles as the services start to go back to a new normal, so make sure you look out for those signature red T-shirts next time you visit NHSGGC!