Students from Hartlepool helped hundreds of hospital patients through a volunteering project.
Young people from Hartlepool College of Further Education helped patients at the University Hospital of North Tees by volunteering as part of their level two diploma in Health and Early Years Care.
Thirteen students took part in the five-month programme which included wrapping over five hundred Christmas presents for patients in hospital on Christmas Day, managing a fortnightly hospital market stall and participating in their very own Dragon’s Den challenge.
The activities encouraged students to develop communication, team working and presentation skills in addition to valuable life skills. Working in the hospital environment also encouraged some of the students to pursue a career in health and social care.
Sue Baker, lecturer at Hartlepool College, said: "The hands on experience has really engaged the students in their work resulting in a greater depth of learning.
"They have gained confidence and developed an enterprising mind-set, which has cultivated aspirations about future careers in the healthcare sector."
Students from the college have been volunteering at the trust for a number of years, but this was the first time for the North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust Dragon’s Den, which challenged students to think about the business planning, in addition to enhancing speaking and listening skills.
Paul Wharton, Volunteer Co-ordinator at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: "We have worked with Hartlepool College for a number of years with mutual benefits. This year we decided to expand the programme by introducing the Dragon’s Den. It was a pleasure to watch the students foster new skills throughout the process and was also of great benefit to patients."
During their time at the trust the students also raised £60 for the hospital charity, by selling items donated by college staff, including knitted baby blankets and teddy bears.
Conner Allison, one of the student's who took part, said: "It was a very rewarding experience to be making money and supporting our NHS. The Dragon's Den was a challenge and a success at the same time, the process helped us learn from our mistakes and turn them into positives."
Fellow student Samina Begum, said: "Some of the best moments were seeing a gorgeous new born baby girl snuggling in one of our hand knitted baby blankets.
"Another highlight was wrapping over 500 Christmas presents in little over two hours, which made us feel like we were making a real difference to the lives of patients in hospital on Christmas Day."
Anyone who would like to find out more about volunteering opportunities at the hospital trust, should visit www.nth.nhs.uk.