Spotlight on... Deborah Lucas-Georgiou
23 June 2021
This week we meet Deborah Lucas-Georgiou, Directorate Administrator in the UCL Medical School. Deborah recently won a Volunteer of the Year award for her work volunteering at the North Middlesex Hospital. Here, she chats to us about what her experience was like.
What is your role and what does it involve?
My current role at UCL is Directorate Administrator to the Director of the UCL Medical School. I manage the day-to-day diary and get involved in new and exciting projects alongside my current line manager.
I am also Administrator for the Target Medicine Programme – which is part of Widening Participation – and am a part of the UCLMS Clinical and Professional Skills Centre, which mainly involves ordering teaching supplies and assisting on site during exam periods.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I have been at UCL for almost 21 years this December!
My previous role was in British Telecoms, where I was a Customer Services Manager, ensuring all engineering/telecoms requests were carried out for large service providers.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
My greatest achievement in the last year has been to join the community of volunteers in the North Middlesex Hospital (satsumas, as we are called, due to the bright orange t-shirts that we wear!)
At the beginning of the pandemic, watching the daily news and seeing how the pandemic was sweeping the country and the world and then going into lockdown, I felt that I needed to get involved and join the millions of people making a difference.
Then lockdown happened, so instead of sitting at home complaining about not being able to see family and friends and having to isolate, I decided to get involved and do something beneficial for the local community. After searching many websites for voluntary opportunities I contacted my nearest Hospital, the North Middlesex and the rest is history!
During the height of the pandemic, no visitors were allowed into the hospital, therefore the roles of the volunteers have been varied. My duties have included collecting patients property, connecting family and patients through 'face-times' and WhatsApp video calls, to end-of-life visits where I have supported family members while they see their relative for what could be the last time. This has been quite emotional at times but families have appreciated the guidance and support, finding comfort that a volunteer has taken time to get to know their family member during their stay in hospital when it has not been possible to see them.
Being a volunteer has been one of the best decisions I have made in years. I’ve found the whole experience, although emotionally draining at times, has been extremely rewarding and also useful in an educational way too. Working alongside the wider community of local residents who also signed up, we have helped ease the heavy and stressful workload of the NHS staff during some of the most testing and challenging of times. We have been through it all together and come through two Covid waves so far and come out at the end.
I still continue to this day with my volunteering activities and now things have eased a little and life is returning to normal in the wards, am more and more involved in generally visiting patients, chatting with them and looking after their wellbeing and sometimes establishing a temporary bond. It is so lovely to connect families and to see people smile, even though some of them can be quite ill. Some of the older patients have wonderful stories to tell about pre and post-war events and sharing memories of their younger days.
The hospital has recently had their centenary celebrations which included the annual staff awards, where myself and two other volunteers were lucky to be nominated and win the Volunteers of the Year award – definitely something I was not expecting but am so proud to be the owner of!
I’ve also joined the hospital choir and have found it be a great outlet for my wellbeing!
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?
I’m not working on any particular work-related projects at the moment, however I have been working on some fun things outside work. I am currently rehearsing songs to sing as part of the North Middlesex choir for the NHS big tea party, as part of the NHS birthday celebrations taking place on 5 July – we will be performing for all staff and patients at the hospital!
I am also in rehearsals for a summer panto based on the last year and a half during the pandemic – mainly about the environment and recycling, and all done in a fun, typical panto style – the performance is due to be shown live to the local community on 10 July.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Favourite Album: War by U2;
Favourite Film: West Side Story/The Notebook;
Novel: the Hunger Games trilogy.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
No favourite jokes I’m sad to say.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
What advice would you give your younger self?
Not to be so scared of taking chances, and don’t care too much what people think of you – just be yourself!
What would it surprise people to know about you?
My dream was to be an actress and a dancer and I have lived in Canada and Australia.
What is your favourite place?
Manly Beach in Australia – it has a fantastic ice-cream parlour, and holds some wonderful memories of my youth!