Volunteer case studies

Meet the volunteer development team

Andrew (Sam) Samuel


Amongst other duties, Sam trains our volunteers - from their initial induction to annual statutory and manditory sessions.

As well as covering important information, the sessions also provide a valuable opportunity to catch up with our wonderful volunteers and to help them with any queries.

Making their volunteering experience as enjoyable as possible is an important aspect of the support we offer them.

Ian Davies


Since the pandemic started, the volunteer development team has recruited and completed eight induction courses, recruiting an additional 43 volunteer car drivers. A futher 10 more are due to start over the next few months.

This has been challenging at times due to work from home however, Ian has managed to overcome the new work life balance.

The main downside is not being able to see the team and colleagues in person on a regular basis

Sharon Thoburn


Sharon was redeployed to the volunteer development team at the very start of the pandemic. This was really strange for her to adapt to a different way of working however Sharon has embraced the change and has become a integral part of the team.

Sharon’s commitment to the volunteers is second to none. She ensures that all the volunteer drivers and porters have a steady supply of PPE as well as ensuring that all the third part providers and taxis are kitted with the supply.

All of the volunteers appreciate everything that Sharon does, whether it is from delivering PPE, uniform or just having a chat with them, the fact that they know she is on the road two days a week means a lot to them.

Sharon  absolutely loves this work, ensuring that the volunteers are supported is her priority.

Community First Responders

We spoke to two Community First Responders (CFRs) to find out why the volunteer for us.

Sue Bainbridge

Sue Bainbridge

Sue volunteers for us in a number of roles. She said:

"I applied and was trained as a Covid volunteer with PTS and went on shifts on a regular basis, laterally with Bishop Auckland crews.

"When we got the plastic protection in our cars from the volunteer development team, l have returned to the ambulance car service ever since. I really love it, love the patients who all have got a story to tell

"It's great to be back on call as a CFR, not a lot of callouts but great to back on after the COVID training from the CFR team which made me feel safe to respond again."

Gloria Middleton

"I would like to think we make a difference.

"Personally during the pandemic, even though I was working in covid assessment unit .I knew how busy the ambulane crews were. I knew some of our CFRs were shielding but wafter being risk assessment, I went on call. We were all briefed, had PPE provided and had fantastic support via various routes - face to face at a distance, virtual meetings and telephone calls.

"At times we were with patients longer, we were sent to jobs further a field but as a volunteer, that's what we do, try to go the extra mile to support the service and help the patients during difficult times.  

I have been a volunteer for 16 years and  work alongside a fantastic team of volunteer CFRs. As volunteers we have the most amazing team and during the pandemic, Gareth, Paddy and Michael continued to support us and keep us safe,  as well as not letting standards drop and ensuring  we continued to be qualified for the role.

"I chose to be a volunteer and dont expect anything other than support when I need it which I do get, but when you get an unexpected thank you through the post it did puts a huge smile on my face. It's the little things like the badge [ a jigsaw piece NEAS gave to its staff and volunteers last year] that sums us up perfectly -  a piece of a jigsaw, but  together we are complete.  I will wear it with pride".

Ambulance car service (ACS)

Terry Reilly

Terry and Graham

(Terry - left and Graham - right)

Terry, 71, and has been volunteering for NEAS since December 2020.

In his own words Terry said he 'wants to help the NHS and particularly NEAS' as he knows the ambulance service is stretched to the limit. 

The NHS has helped Terry in the past which he is very grateful for and wanted to give something back.

“It has kept me going in these sad times knowing I was doing my bit for the NH. Knowing how hard the last year has been for doctors/nurses/ambulance, it has been nice to be able to help other people and I enjoy have a bit chit chat with the patients and help keep them calm as some of them are getting taken into hospital for serious treatment and sometimes just need someone to sound off to”.

Graham Kirkup

Graham has been an ACS driver since 2016. He said: “I decided to become a volunteer driver as my wife’s health involves a lot of hospital visits and treatment. Volunteering to provide this vital service to patients, personally makes me feel satisfied that I am supporting the NHS in return.

"I engage with both regular and individual patients on a day to day basis. It is vital to make the patients’ hospital visits as easy and smooth as possible as often these patients can spend up to 60 minutes in my care from me collecting them from a hospital ward and returning them safely to their homes”.

COVID volunteer

Ian Bewick

Ian Bewick

Ian was one of the first COVID volunteers that came forward in April 2020.

He was allocated to work in the stores at Pallion at the very beginning of the pandemic and did many hours on a voluntary basis.

Ian usually volunteers as a 'puppy walker' for Guide Dogs for the Blind and when we went into lockdown, and everything came to a halt, he felt as though he would like to carry on with some form of voluntary work to help out in the country’s time of crisis.

Ian’s son works in our emergency operations centre at HQ and told him about the volunteer programme that was being advertised which Ian promptly applied for and was accepted.

He said that he likes to do voluntary work as he feels that he wants to give something back and gives him a sense of fulfilment when he can help others.

Because of his commitment to helping out in the stores at Pallion, he is now employed on a temporary contract which he hopes may lead to a full-time role.

Ambulance Reception Centre


The Alcohol reception vehicle works alongside Northumbria police in Newcastle city centre on a Friday & Sat night 2300-0300. The vehicle is covered by volunteers from St Johns with one paid member of staff. These volunteers do this alongside their day jobs.

NEAS works closely with Karen Madge Inspector neighbour policing central officer from Northumbria Police to ensure that we have police presence On Friday night Police presence was Mick Armstrong & Kyle Brewis, Mick said that this is a great service that helps and supports not just the police and Ambulance service but is a reassuring presence for the pubs & clubs as well as the pastors that also help in the city centre.

Andrew Horsley  Community response lead  for St John has been involved with the alcohol reception services for a number of years. His day job is a teacher, Andrew enjoys having an active role in supporting volunteers. Hue Williams was volunteering on Friday night and he is a first year medical student at Newcastle University and this provides him with a great opportunity to get some first-hand experience. Also on duty were volunteers Stewart Keeman ( Regional Clinical Lead for St John who has been involved with St John since 2010, he just wants to give something back to his community.

The volunteers deal with a wide variety of incidents, from dealing with  people who are intoxicated, minor injuries, people who have become separated from friends and distressed. The vehicle also offers support to NEAS if required.

The police have praised St Johns for the resource they provide and without it would make the polices job difficult.

Volunteer porters

Paul Cornish

Paul Cornish

Paul has volunteered as a porter at the Royal Victoria Infirmary since 2015.

He currently volunteers four days a week and was one of the first porters to return when restrictions were lifted during the pandemic.

Janice Robinson

Janice (right) with payroll officer Karen White

Janice Robinson

Janice Robinson has been a volunteer for the Trust for a number of years and goes above and beyond to work with the volunteer development team and the volunteers to ensure issues/concerns are addressed in a timely way. Janice engages and brings new ideas to the volunteers ommittee that is something we all appreciate.

When the pandemic hit, Janice was keen to get involved and delivered PPE to COVID volunteers as well as delivering PPE to all volunteer drivers and porters.

Her role was invaluable to us and extended to ensuring that our payroll officer Karen White was able to get pay sheets to payroll on time when the postal system slowed down due to the pandemic.   

Her commitment can’t be measured.

Newcastle University First Responders



Newcastle University First Responders (NUFR) have had a busy second year of recruiting new team members to the service and responding to an average of 50-60 calls a month. As well as the added challenges of operating during the pandemic, NUFR team members were also called upon to work in vaccination centres in the local area where they have been helping out since the start of the vaccine programme

Council of Governors

At NEAS, we have a Council of Governors made up of 21 public governors four staff governors, plus nine appointed governors who all volunteer their time to us.

Governors are the voice that represents all of our members and the public and they help shape the future of the Trust – helping to improve the experience patients receive and ensure that we provide services that meet the needs of the North East.

Some of our Governors also volunteer as Community First Responders, COVID volunteers or they volunteer in other parts of the NHS - what a commitment!

Our Council of Governors has had to adapt to virtual working during the pandemic and with their commitment and support we have continued to hold our quarterly Council meetings using virtual meeting technology.

We would like to sincerely thank our Council of Governors for their commitment and support over the last 12 months. Elections for our staff and public Governor positions will commence shortly - please get in touch to find out more via governors@neas.nhs.uk

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