Nursing students at Bangor University have collected and wrapped more than 170 Christmas presents for the elderly and homeless as part of a campaign to spread some festive cheer.
This is the second year running that students have masterminded and run the Christmas appeal, which was founded by adult nursing student Ceri Chamorro, now in her final year of training.
Last year they distributed Christmas gifts to more than 130 frail and elderly patients but this year the drive is “bigger and better”, Ms Chamorro told Nursing Times. “We started in October and the support has been overwhelming with even more students involved.
“Up to now we have about 170 and still loads more to fill we also have left over toiletries and raffle to do, so we are unsure of our target yet, but ideally around the 300 mark,” she said.
Together with coursemates Kate Topple, Fern Williams and Natalie Evans, she has co-ordinated a public appeal for items including toiletries, playing cards, Christmas ornaments and colouring books for adults.
These have been packaged up in gift boxes by student nurse volunteers and will be distributed to elderly patients on rehabilitation wards at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Glan Clywd Hospital and Gwynedd Hospital – all run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
“Seeing patients without much and without families, really upsets us as student nurses”
Those supporting the drive and donating gifts have included the mayor of Wrexham John Pritchard.
Ms Chamorro came up with the idea for the appeal during a practice placement when she realised that some patients did not get visits from family or even a Christmas card over the festive period.
“When we’re on placements, then seeing patients without much and without families, really upsets us as student nurses,” she said.
“We saw the impact of what we did last year in handing the boxes out – it was very emotional but so lovely at the same time,” she said. “People were crying – they were overwhelmed.”
This year students from both the university’s healthcare campuses in Bangor and Wrexham have helped with the appeal, which has also involved staging a raffle to raise funds.
Student nurses aiming higher in re-run of festive gift appeal
“It’s been really nice, as students from the adult, child, and mental health fields have all collaborated and first, second and third years have all been involved,” said Ms Chamorro.
Gill Harris, executive director of nursing and midwifery at Betsi Cadwaladr, will join students when they give out the presents on 18 December.
Extra gifts will be donated to local charities including a shelter for the homeless. Ms Chamorro, who has previously experienced homelessness herself, said she knew how much the gifts would be appreciated.
She was inspired to become a nurse after caring for her grandmother and is now keen to go into district nursing.
“I really like the fact I can offer patient-centred care – I feel like they are my patients and I have that bit of extra time to spend with them,” she said.
“If I have an extra half hour in the morning, then I can sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with a patient before doing what I am there to do,” she told Nursing Times.
“I find on the wards that it is busy and you so rarely have that option because you always get roped into something else,” she added.
Students at Bangor have already said they will run the appeal next year and she plans on returning to help out.