Thursday, June 20, 2024

Volunteering to feed patients is ‘Buddy’ brilliant

A VOLUNTEER who has been helping feed hospital patients for the last 10 years is now passing on his skills and experience to the next generation, who are encouraging vulnerable and elderly patients to eat at mealtimes.

Peter Thorn, 75 from Leigh, has been a Feeding Buddy at Southend Hospital for the last decade. His voice and manner are instantly warm and calming, so it is little wonder he is such a hit with patients and staff on wards.

He said: “Being a Feeding Buddy gives me a lot of personal pride that I am helping someone keep their strength up, so it is essential they get food and drink when they can’t feed themselves. When I can I also really enjoy my chats with patients, sometimes they do get emotional, but it is all about sparking memories. I love this role.
“Everyone has a story to tell, and as a Feeding Buddy I’ve been lucky enough to meet people who have been everything from a butler for someone famous to a tiller girl dancer, so you always meet some unexpected people.”

Peter is currently training up Michelle Davis to be a Feeding Buddy, she’d already spent 18 years as a carer for her late mum, Jean, who was well cared for by Southend Hospital, and now her daughter wanted to give something back.

Michelle, 47 from Canvey, said: “I’ve been training since February and it gives me a real buzz that I am helping others, it has really helped give me some confidence speaking to and helping people.”
And Michelle is also hoping to use this experience to help her future career, as she aims to become a Healthcare Assistant (HCA).

She said: “Being a Feeding Buddy is helping give me a real insight into how a hospital ward works, and some experience of being on a ward, all of which will hopefully help me become an HCA.”

And now Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust is seeking volunteer Feeding Buddies to help – whether it be for a few hours, a day or several days a week – across Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Basildon Hospital and Southend Hospital.

Jonathan Wright, Senior Voluntary Services Manager, said: “We have 65 Feeding Buddy team members across the Trust, helping encourage and feed patients at mealtimes. Volunteers like Peter and Michelle show how fulfilling a role it is and all Feeding Buddies receive full training and support to help, making sure their time is time that has a real positive impact on others.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about being a Feeding Buddy, please email


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