“Volunteering is the best thing you can do and I’d recommend anyone who has some spare time to do it.”

Christine Rafferty has been volunteering at ELHT since 2019. Named Volunteer of the Year at the Trust last year for her support during the pandemic, her friendly face welcomes patients and visitors behind Main Reception at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital.  

She said:

Back in 1999 my late dad Derek was treated at the former Blackburn Royal Infirmary and then Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital. The service he received was beyond words and I could never thank the hospital staff enough.

Christine RaffertySo, when I retired, I decided to volunteer. I wanted to pay them back for all the care and support they gave my dad.

I applied via Lancashire Volunteer Partnership and I started my first shift at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital in October 2019. I helped patients use the self-check-in machines near Main Reception and served tea and coffee to patients in the Emergency Department.

But when COVID-19 hit volunteers were no longer allowed in the Emergency Department and the self-check-in desks were closed so I worked at reception. We were called ‘mask volunteers’ because it was before mask-wearing was mandatory and our job was to ask patients to wear them and apply gel on their hands – a challenging time I must say, as we saw the best and worst of people!

During lockdown I was one of the ‘baggage drop’ volunteers. That meant, any bags that were dropped off for patients by their families we took to the ward. When I wasn’t doing that, I was back at reception – and that’s where I’ve stayed since.

I love it! Meeting people and talking to them is a daily joy. And if there isn’t a Porter available to push a patient in a wheelchair to their appointment then I will do it. I appreciate and understand how busy my colleagues are so I’m happy to help in anyway I can. 

Although I’m giving something back by volunteering it’s also a wonderful experience for me. I’ve met some great friends – we even have a theatre group! Everyone is so friendly and the team on reception is like family.