An Oxford Brookes student has been nominated in the Oxfordshire Health and Social Care Awards 2021 for her volunteering work during the pandemic.
Courtney Hughes, a first year student studying the Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship degree, has supported members of her local community and frontline healthcare workers through her charity Secret Santa 365, which provides gifts, essential items, care packages and social support to elderly, lonely and vulnerable members of the community.
Through her charity, Courtney launched the Laptops for Learners appeal, after realising that many young people who had switched to home-schooling didn’t have digital devices they could use.
“In Oxfordshire, I saw an increased demand for laptops as the need for home-school meant lots of families were struggling to have enough devices for their children. Covid isn’t the cause of this but it has highlighted the number of people who don’t have access to the Internet or devices at home,” says Courtney.
Working and studying in healthcare has motivated me to think more widely and has opened my eyes to people in need and the different types of people who sometimes just need an extra hand or support whether it be families, staff or other charities.
Courtney Hughes, first year student studying Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship at Oxford Brookes University
“We have now given 300 refurbished and new laptops and tablets to help local children to learn at home.”
Courtney’s charity has also been able to gift devices to older people experiencing loneliness during the pandemic to make sure they can keep in touch with loved ones, and donated £10,000 worth of new laptops to a local secondary school.
In addition, Courtney and her team has supported others throughout the pandemic by sending food to key worker staff across the county including nurses, doctors, paramedics, firefighters and carers, donated care packages to nurses on the front line and ensured isolated people in the community had access to food.
Courtney juggles her charity work while working a full-time job at the John Radcliffe Hospital and studying for her nursing degree. She says working and studying in the healthcare profession has motivated her to help people in her personal life too:
“Working and studying in healthcare has motivated me to think more widely and has opened my eyes to people in need and the different types of people who sometimes just need an extra hand or support whether it be families, staff or other charities,” she said.
On being nominated in the Unsung Hero in the Community Award category, Courtney added: “I feel very excited and humbled to be nominated for this award, the charity would not be where it is today without the amazing secret santa team and the kind generosity from the community that surrounds Secret Santa 365.”
The winners of the Oxfordshire Health and Social Care Awards will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony live on Oxford Mail’s Facebook page on 21st May from 7pm.