John Moss talks about his 13-year volunteering journey at Whipps Cross.
“After retiring from the Metropolitan police in 2009, I wanted to continue staying active and give back in my own small way.
I first tried to volunteer at a local crown court and help care for vulnerable witnesses, however they weren’t recruiting volunteers at the time.
My next thought was Whipps Cross specifically, remembering the contribution it’s had in my life, caring for my parents until they passed away. It was a no brainer! It was this connection that motivated me to apply to be a volunteer in June 2010, and when I started supporting on Nightingale ward.
Fast forward 13 years, and I’m still here… on Nightingale ward, and still enjoying every bit of it. When I first started on the ward you find yourself checking in with staff a lot, maybe unsure about how you can help out, but gradually over the years you start to make the job your own.
What I enjoy the most about volunteering is feeling a part of something. Not everyone likes the idea of retirement, so those that want to continue doing something volunteering is a great way to help fill a void that may be left when you do retire. A world where I don’t have any commitments, and free everyday wasn’t my thing. So having two days where I can come in and connect with people and help out where I can, suits me perfectly. From the interaction I receive walking down our infamous corridor to the sense of being part of team when I’m on the ward is fantastic. A few years back a member of the team invited me to their daughter’s wedding – it’s those sorts of things that fill you up and make you feel a part of something.
One to one time with patients is something I also really enjoy and on Nightingale. Unfortunately, you do get people that return and return again. In these situations, real bonds are formed and can see the benefits seeing a familiar face each time can have on a returning patient.
Then, as we all know, the pandemic hit, and I was no longer allowed on Nightingale ward given the risks at the time. I used to say hello from outside sometimes and wave to colleagues not knowing who they were sometimes because they were in full PPE – it was quite shocking at the time.
During the time I wasn’t allowed on Nightingale I would help out in other areas of the hospital like the eye treatment centre and the front desk at outpatients. Ordering taxis, helping with wheelchairs, all while secretly hoping to return to Nightingale ward again.
In March 2023, I was finally allowed to return to Nightingale and it was great – almost like I hadn’t been away. I picked up tasks and it was back to business as usual.
My advice to anyone considering volunteering, wherever it is, you have to give total commitment to it. You have to care, to care.”