Amy Hughes, St John's Ambulance volunteer and University of Portsmouth student

9 April 2021

6 min read

Student Amy Hughes is making the most of her spare time outside of her studies - by volunteering the equivalent of a four day week for the NHS during the pandemic.

She is currently the Unit Manager at the University of Portsmouth St John Ambulance Unit which has around 30 St John Ambulance student volunteers.

A volunteering journey

Amy first started volunteering in her first year as a Portsmouth Photography student, by joining the First Aid Society which is affiliated with St John Ambulance. This set her down the path of becoming a health volunteer. 

During the first wave of the Covid pandemic, she was called up to help at London’s Nightingale Hospital. There she was clinically supporting patients and running a Covid testing centre for the staff.

In 2020 she gave 1300 hours of volunteering in total. Over the summer Amy qualified as Emergency Ambulance Crew with St John Ambulance and now completes 3 frontline shifts a week responding to 999 calls.

I started volunteering for St John Ambulance when I joined university, as I wanted to be able to give back and help my local community.

Amy Hughes, Photography BA (Hons) student

Targeting 1500 hours of volunteering 

Amy’s already volunteered over 650 hours since the start of 2021 and has set a target for 1500 by the end of the year.

She says: “Balancing my volunteering and my studies has been tough, especially recently when the demand for additional help from the NHS has been at an all time high. I have found I have wanted to do as much as possible to help out but have also had to make sure I have enough time to complete the work required for my degree.”

Thanks to her experience she now wants to move into a medical career in the long term, and encourages other students to get involved in their local community:

“I wanted to be able to meet people outside of university whilst doing something beneficial that supports my studies. My volunteering has not only helped me develop as a person but has also provided me with invaluable skills that I can take forward with me and use in my future career. I have learnt life saving skills as well as well as massively developing my communication with others and how to work under pressure. 

“The best part about it is that the learning never stops and every day I learn something new that I can use in everyday life as well as towards my future career goals.”

To find out more about volunteering while at University of Portsmouth, contact the Careers & Employability team.