Our Place presents the some insightful case-studies of people just like you who have gone onto become volunteers.
The first testimonial comes from Richard, 67, a U3A volunteer.
Initially when I finished full-time work and moved from London to the Midlands, I continued in part time consultancy work. I quickly realised work began to interfere with my desire for more freedom to spend time away on holidays and with my partner and my young grandchildren.
I quickly joined local activities such as the 50s plus forum and U3A (University of the Third Age) both to expand my interests and meet new groups of people.
This developed into committee work for the forum for 5 years and also began an on-going involvement as a tutor with the local U3A delivering basic computing skills to fellow U3A members.
The course was created by a group of six like-minded people when a general membership survey showed over one third had no computer knowledge and had expressed a desire to learn.
Take the plunge
We now run courses for beginners and intermediate levels now during term time only, as the number of students dropped dramatically during school holidays, mainly because of people looking after their grandchildren.
The availability of facilities including access to the internet has restricted the venue and timing of courses, which we now host on a Thursday morning in a local hotel.
The satisfaction from volunteering as a tutor with U3A comes from achieving results. It’s great when people who have no knowledge of computers or have never touched a keyboard learn what is possible and can email, book holidays or study the horse racing form using their computer.
It is sometimes frustrating when the technology does not work properly and a plan ‘b’ has to be quickly put in place, but that’s part of the fun of putting on a course like this.
I had previously volunteered while working full time as chairman of the local village hall and treasurer of the local tennis club. Then while my own children were teenagers I became a school governor and also chairman of the local D of E Awards scheme.
Volunteering helps keep the grey matter active and expands both interests and contacts. Choose something you enjoy and take the plunge, you never know what you might learn!
Our Place’s second testimonial comes courtesy of Jackie, 64, who took up volunteering after retiring from her job as a school inspector.
“I had run church youth groups and done a short spell at The Royal Marsden hospital whilst I was working. After I finished work I felt I needed to be busy and do something useful. I looked at several volunteering opportunities and liked what I read in the Katharine House information for possible volunteers.
My first opportunity to volunteer was in Day Care, where my initial role was to befriend and encourage patients to share any anxieties and to help them live their lives to the full.
I spend a lot of my time listening to patients and chatting with them and after a while, the senior counsellor asked me if I would consider training as a bereavement support worker to assist families after the death of a loved one.
Later still, the Chaplain approached me to see if I would be willing to work as a pastoral care volunteer and a Eucharistic Minister.
I now do all of these roles at and work both in Day Care and the In Patients Unit where people are either having respite care or are in the last few days of life.
I have been given superb, professional training in house for all of these roles and I have regular training sessions each year. Everyone who works at the hospice has to undertake some statutory training each year on things such as hygiene and fire precautions etc.
In Day Care, I welcome patients and serve them tea and coffee. The rest of my day is spent talking with patients and organising games, quizzes or helping with craft activities. I have also been trained to offer hand and foot massages to patients, which is a great new skill.
In my Pastoral Care Role, I visit patients and family members and encourage them to share any worries they may have. If they wish, I will pray with them or offer communion. I run ecumenical services for patients in Day Care in the hospice chapel and may be asked to offer healing words to everyone including staff when someone has died.
In my bereavement support role I help the chaplain run memorial services for families of the bereaved and I work as a counsellor in the evening with family members who are finding coping with bereavement difficult.
The most rewarding part of my work comes when I have been privileged to make life a little easier for someone who is suffering in whatever way. I have also met some lovely people with the most amazing life stories who have inspired me. Believe it or not, we also laugh a lot in this work!
It is hard at times, and when patients I have grown to know well die, it is hard seeing heartbroken family members but I have learned more than I can say and feel totally privileged to meet such wonderful people and be taken into their confidence.