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Read the latest NELFT Talks articles from our staff and stakeholders, as they share their views on recent innovations and developments at NELFT, as well as advice and information on a range of topics and events. 

Routes into NELFT – Stephanie McNichol

A photo of Stephanie smiling at the camera

At NELFT, our volunteers are an integral part of #TeamNELFT and provide a great service to our patients and staff. Many of our volunteers stay with us for a long time, including joining our staff Bank or as a permanent colleague.

Hear more about the volunteer route into NELFT from Stephanie McNichol, who was a media volunteer, then joined our staff bank and is now working as a substantive member of staff in a Project Support Officer role.

Tell us about your journey into NELFT

I was working in the international hotel industry and set up my own business. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit shortly after and due to the restrictions on international travel, it wasn’t viable to continue.

My neighbour worked for NELFT at the time and suggested I do some volunteering to get an insight into the NHS. There was a media volunteer vacancy advertised to write articles for the internal newsletter and I started with NELFT at the end of 2020.

Shortly after this, I joined the staff Bank to support the covid-19 vaccination centre. My manager championed me throughout and I was soon given a fixed term contract a band higher, after which I moved into a substantive role as business support officer. I became interested in projects and was successful in applying for a secondment development role as a project support officer.

What does your role entail and how does it support patients?

I currently work as a Project Support Officer for Havering Childrens Mental Health Service. My current projects and duties include revising our online referral form, looking at clinic space to ensure they are fit for purpose and the space is maximised efficiently. I manage ad-hoc projects to support our service users and staff.

What inspired you to volunteer and subsequently work in the healthcare sector?

I wanted a role that was public facing and enabled me to give something back to the community – something with purpose. It has been just as I expected, I’m always busy, learning new skills and I’ve been supported throughout.

 Why do you enjoy working at NELFT?

I enjoy working with the public, delivering a good service to our patients, and working to improve the experiences of both patients and our staff. I enjoy being part of a team, and the fact that it’s fast-paced with new initiatives keeps my role interesting. Seeing first-hand the incredible efforts made by everyone has only confirmed that I made the right choice in working in healthcare.

How are you supported at NELFT?

Everything is here for staff to access when we need it. From wellbeing support including emails, newsletters, and activities, to flexible working. I previously worked condensed hours which was helpful in managing my work life balance. My managers have always been supportive and helped me with my career progression as I moved from a volunteering position to Bank and now in my permanent role.

What advice would you give to others looking to volunteer?

Look at what your current skills are and what you can offer. Remember you don’t have to commit a huge amount of time, any time that you can spare will be worthwhile for both you and the service.

What advice would you give to others looking to work on the NELFT staff Bank?

I would say to be flexible in terms of the type of work you would like to do. There are many opportunities on the staff bank which means you can gain experience, learn new skills, and build your network of contacts by working in different departments.

If you would like to volunteer with NELFT, please click here to complete an application form. If you would like to join our staff bank, click here to visit our careers website.


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