Mercy Ships, the international charity that operates the world’s largest floating hospital, thank the thousands of volunteers who have helped the charity, while taking part in Volunteers’ Week over the years.
Over 21 million people in the UK volunteer at least once a year, contributing an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy. Volunteers’ Week, which runs from 1-12 June, aims to inspire people and showcase the range of volunteering opportunities available.
Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships have served in more than 451 ports throughout developing nations around the world, bringing hope, relief and healing to the most vulnerable people.
The charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, delivers free healthcare to countries where professional medical staff are most needed. The ship is currently docked in Madagascar, a country where only two physicians and three hospital beds are available for every 10,000 people.
Mercy Ships depends entirely on volunteers to continue their work. These come from all walks of life. Ranging from cooks to surgeons to engineers to dentists, each is vital to the running of Mercy Ships.
Ali Herbert from Gloucester has volunteered with Mercy Ships 17 times as an anaesthetic assistant. Ali said: ‘Mercy Ships is remarkable in the way that the volunteers also train local healthcare workers, and therefore the work of the charity serves not only the present needs, but also the future needs of a country’.
Judy Polkinhorn, executive director, said: ‘The volunteers are vital to the charity’s mission; the work they do is life changing, not only to patients but to the volunteers themselves’.