Western Trust Q&As: Wendy Doherty: 'I could speak all day about the little differences volunteers make'

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In the first in a new series of articles focusing on the people delivering health and social care at the Western Trust & Social Care Trust we feature Wendy Doherty, Volunteer and Work Experience Coordinator based at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am married and have been with my husband Eddie for too many years to recall. We have two wonderful children, Dearbhla aged 15 and Shane aged 21, and our fur baby, rescue dog Poppy and we live in Prehen, Derry. We live in my family home where I have lived since I was seven.

When did you join the Trust and what did you do before that?

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Wendy Doherty, Volunteer and Work Experience Coordinator Western Trust.Wendy Doherty, Volunteer and Work Experience Coordinator Western Trust.
Wendy Doherty, Volunteer and Work Experience Coordinator Western Trust.

I joined the Trust almost 15 years ago, previously working mostly as a retail manager when I finished my degree at QUB. I had a young family and wanted to move away from working late nights and weekends. The ‘Friday feeling’ was very appealing.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in your day-to-day job?

Every day is different! I link with new volunteers to allow them to register and then match to the most appropriate volunteer role. I engage with staff from every section of the Trust from Community settings to Ward environments. I love how my job allows me to work with such a wide variety of staff.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

There are great volunteering opportunities with the Western Trust.There are great volunteering opportunities with the Western Trust.
There are great volunteering opportunities with the Western Trust.

I want everything to happen yesterday! I can be a bit impatient when I want to get things done quickly!

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

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When a volunteer enjoys their role or a member of staff lets me know how a volunteer interaction has made a significant difference to a patient’s day. I could speak all day about the little differences volunteers make – don’t get me started, we will be here until next week.

Can you recall your happiest moment or moments to date in your job?

There are lots of happy moments! I remember a junior doctor stopping me in the corridor a few years ago and thanking me for the opportunities he had received through both volunteering and work experience. He said those experiences made him decide he wanted a career in within the Western Trust and that he would never forget them!

What would you say are the benefits of being based in the North West?

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I enjoy how diverse we have become. The typical profile of a volunteer has changed. We have a very diverse population in Derry which is wonderful to see. We have people volunteering from all age groups (from 16 years to 80+) and from different cultures/ backgrounds. Every volunteer makes a huge impact whilst benefiting personally. Volunteering eases loneliness, gives a sense of purpose and greatly supports our staff throughout our hospitals and community facilities.

What would you say to someone who was considering following in your footsteps and either working or relocating to the North West?

The people are fab! We are a welcoming bunch always up for a good chat and a bit of banter. (Me in particular – those who know me say I talk – a lot)!

Can you tell us one thing about yourself that people might not know?

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I worked as a lifeguard while at school through University and beyond, but I have a fear of diving. Never mastered it, so was the only person when completing qualifications that jumped into the water whilst my fellow swimmers had the advantage of a ‘head start’ from their dive.

I also have a twin brother, some would say it is great that he is very different to me!

If you had one wish in life, what would it be?

Health and happiness for my family.

Can you remember your first patient? First day?

I can’t remember my first volunteer but there are definitely a few who stand out. A lady who volunteered was well into her eighties and used to call to tell me ‘I am away to see my old people’ before volunteering on the ‘Care of The Elderly’ Ward. She made me chuckle.

A patient once took the time to write a very lengthy letter directly to our Chief Executive to advise how delighted she was when a Meet and Greet volunteer had assisted her when attending an Outpatients appointment.

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There have been so many memorable characters who have volunteered, and still volunteer, in our hospitals, I have found it to a pleasure to meet them, understand their needs and watch them grown in confidence, knowing they are making a difference. It is amazing to see how each and every volunteer, whatever role they carry out, take a great sense of pride in their role. To hear the words ‘I love volunteering’ makes my job so worthwhile. I definitely have the perfect job and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

The first week of June each year marks a very special week in the Western Trust’s calendar. During Volunteers Week (and my birthday), we take time to showcase what our volunteers do and to recognise their achievements.

Anyone who would like more information please feel free to come along to one of our information stands which will be in place at each of the entrances to our three hospitals throughout the week, or get in touch via email [email protected] or Tel: 028 71611155. Thank you.

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