Katy commits to deliver for charity

6 May 20

Katy Jones graduated from Winchester last year with a BA (Hons) in Childhood, Youth and Community Studies (CYCS). She is now working for the blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan, in their Youth Engagement Team and recently volunteered, alongside her job, to deliver emergency stem cells around the UK for the charity.

We asked Katy to tell us how her experiences as a Winchester student helped her to secure this rewarding and vital work, and how they continue to inspire her career.

She replied, “I loved the CYCS modules on working with young people in informal educational settings and offering opportunities aside from schools. My dissertation was on mental health which I found fascinating so I knew I wanted to do something to support and enhance young people’s wellbeing.”

Katy volunteered throughout university with the Winchester Marrow and the Winchester Hub and said “it was the biggest driver towards a career in youth engagement in the charity sector where so many opportunities and so much support is provided.”

She carried on to explain that “Marrow is a network of over 50 societies in universities across the UK working with the Anthony Nolan charity. I set up Winchester Marrow in my first year with the help of my new course-mates and flatmates after my best friend had lost his sister to leukaemia. As a volunteer, you sign students up to the stem cell register (to register, it just takes five minutes with a form and a cheek swab, raise lifesaving funds and get to meet likeminded incredible people). Winchester Marrow still operates and has signed up nearly 1,000 students and people within the Winchester community to the stem cell register since 2016. It was the best thing I did at Winchester!”

After Katy finished her studies, she continued to volunteer for Anthony Nolan throughout the summer with the National Marrow Committee, supporting Marrow groups up and down the country. She then worked as an au pair in Northern Italy for a while to fund a month of travel in Thailand with a friend from Winchester.

Returning to the UK, Katy’s job search began in earnest and she was successful in following a lead suggested by a friend about a vacancy at Anthony Nolan. She said, “The extensive volunteering I did whilst at university was a key factor in my securing a three-month placement at Anthony Nolan at the end of December, working within the Register Development Team during their busiest period.”

After a couple of months, as the risk of Covid-19 grew, Katy and her team started working from home and an opportunity arose for her to step up to the front line in helping to save lives. As Katy explained, “The role as a stem cell courier is usually done by incredible Anthony Nolan volunteers, carrying stem cells throughout the UK and abroad. However they are mostly over the age of 70, some having had blood cancer in the past, and therefore needing to self-isolate. International couriers who would usually collect directly from the clinic or hospital where the stem cells were donated now couldn’t due to social distancing measures.

“So staff were asked to start taking on the trips and I volunteered. I did four trips; it was incredible to see a bag of donated stem cells and be part of its journey from donor to patient. It’s a nervous time for those living with blood cancer during a normal year but I can’t begin to imagine the uncertainty they must be feeling during the pandemic. Being able to help was both emotional and empowering.”

Katy’s salaried placement was due to finish on 14 April but she was more than willing to volunteer as a courier. However, adapting to the rapidly changing situation and recognising Katy’s dedication and commitment to the charity, Anthony Nolan rehired Katy and furloughed her until July. She was thrilled when they renewed her contract, initially for six months, as a Donor Provision Co-ordinator.

In early October, Katy wrote to say, “I'm really enjoying the role. It's hard work but very rewarding and I'm working from home. Today it was made permanent so I'm very happy about that! I have a fileload of around 20 donor-patient workups, communicating between UK donors, international donor registries and UK transplant hospitals to arrange the stem cell donations. It's like a puzzle trying to make it fit with the donors’ schedules and the patients’ treatment plans, and things can wrong at any point. Covid has obviously had a big impact on transplants and transport, as often we are transporting cells abroad. But it's a great job and no two days are the same! 

“And I’m very excited that we have our first University of Winchester student who signed up to the register donating stem cells to a patient in November! It's really come full circle!”

Visit www.anthonynolan.org/coronavirusemergencyappeal to find out how you can help the charity keep this lifesaving work going.

To find out more about Katy’s role and the wonderful work carried out by the Anthony Nolan charity, see this article in Charity Today. Visit www.anthonynolan.org/coronavirusemergencyappeal to find out how you can help the charity keep this lifesaving work going.

Are you working or volunteering in a key role to support your community to cope with the impacts of the Covid-19 virus? Email alumni@winchester.ac.uk to tell us what you are doing. We are so proud of - and can't wait to hear from - you!

Or do you know a Winchester graduate who is going the extra mile to help others in this unprecedented time? Nominations are still open for the Alumni Recognition Award 2020.


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