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Date: 17 January 2021
Members' profiles: Vicky Tod
Vicky Todd, a retired social worker, has been volunteering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for the past 11 years. As a wheelchair user, Vicky is also involved in a number of groups offering advice on how to make the hospital user-friendly for disabled people.
Vicky explains: "I began volunteering because I had time on my hands. I had just retired and my husband had recently passed away so it would have been easy for me to just sit there watching television all day, but I didn't want to do that.
"Just because you don't work any more doesn't mean you're not capable. I knew there were still lots of ways I could contribute; so I just went for it."
As a volunteer, Vicky visits the neurological wards and spends time with the patients, offering a friendly ear to those who just was someone to listen. "I make a point of seeing every patient on the wards, even if all I do is say 'hello'. Being in hospital is scary especially if you are on a neurology ward and having an operation on your brain. Some people find this hard to deal with so I make sure they know I am around if they need me to listen."
"Being in a wheelchair isn't a disadvantage in my eyes; in fact in many ways it makes me more approachable because the patients know that I understand what they are going through. I also find that patients are spurred on by seeing me in the wheelchair – I guess I'm living proof that you can have a life when you're in a wheelchair."
As a voluntary chaplain, Vicky also offers pastoral to support to the patients and can often be found in the Chapel on Sunday mornings, helping the patients back to the wards after the Sunday service. She also runs errands such as fetching newspapers for those patients who can't get out of bed.
Vicky has also been involved in the New Hospital Project and the widening of Hospital Drive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by advising the project team on making the site more disabled-friendly.
"One of the things I have been glad to be involved in is improving Hospital Drive. I went around the area in my wheelchair to demonstrate where the dropped kerbs need to be and how much space is needed between car parking spaces for wheelchair users. So often it is the little things that make the difference, so it is nice to know I can help make those differences."
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