Volunteers' Week Blog
This week is the 30th anniversary of
Volunteers’ Week, and we want to thank our 20,000 plus volunteers
who work year-round to provide first aid in communities up and down
the country. Hear from our volunteers, in their own words, about
what their role means to them.
Jacqui Clare, Community First Responder
Two years ago, I made a phone call that
changed my life. Suffering with severe chest pains, I felt I
needed medical help when the pain radiated into my lower jaw.
As it was a Sunday, I called NHS Direct who advised me that I
needed an ambulance. Hours later, hospital tests proved that
I was alright and not in danger, thankfully!
I couldn’t forget the care, attention and
kindness of the ambulance crew that helped me. The next day,
I went onto the London Ambulance Service website to thank them and
came across their volunteering page, and I haven’t looked back. I
became a Community First Responder with both St John Ambulance and
the London Ambulance Service, to provide other people with the help
I received myself.
I volunteer with the Havering CFR unit and I
feel privileged to now be in a position where I can help members of
my community when they are at their most vulnerable – I enjoy
treating, supporting and assisting them in their ambulance ride to
hospital. I have attended many callouts and these have taught me a
great deal about the resilience and humility of people in my
I remember one particular call to an elderly
couple who had been together for 60 years. The wife had
suffered a stroke and was paralysed, but her husband worked
around-the-clock to care for her.
Suffering from exhaustion, the husband had
called an ambulance because he had heart palpitations one morning
Both of them were distressed about being
separated. I held the woman’s hand and tried to comfort them both
whilst the paramedic looked after her husband. It was a sobering
moment and that day has stayed with me for a long time. I consider
myself very fortunate to have been able to provide some comfort and
reassurance in their time of need.
Last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer
and had to have surgery followed by chemotherapy and
radiotherapy. This meant that I had to suspend my active
volunteer duties while I recovered.
Despite this, I stayed very much involved with
the Community First Responder scheme, taking over administration
duties and liaising with London Ambulance Service. I enjoy being
part of a team of like-minded people, and working alongside the
dedicated professionals of the London Ambulance Service. I am
very proud of my team - we all
work so well together and everyone gives their own time so
To learn more about Jacqui’s role, please
visit our Volunteering section. The
Volunteers’ Week is an initiative of the National Council for Voluntary