Volunteering with the St Richard’s Hospice community team has been incredibly rewarding and has offered me a valuable insight into the social effects of illness on people’s everyday lives.
As a Community Services Volunteer, I visit a lady being cared for by St Richard’s for an hour each week and help her with day to day tasks such as washing up, housework or walking the dog. Sometimes she just wants me to sit with her while her husband goes out for an hour and I really enjoy being able to offer just this small support to help them cope with the impacts that her illness has had on their lives.
During a recent visit I helped the couple to sort through a cupboard containing their collection of china. I was able to reach to the back of the cupboard for her and lay everything out on the table for sorting, including some items that she had forgotten about and was pleased to rediscover. Other items were put aside to be donated to their local church. On another visit, I cleaned the sitting room windows which meant that she could see the birds in the garden more clearly from her armchair.
I feel privileged to be able to help her with these normal everyday tasks that we all take for granted, and which she finds much more difficult due to the effects of her illness and treatment and I know that they both really appreciate my visits.
The training I have received from St Richard’s has given me the knowledge and the confidence to be able to take on this role, and I have learnt about issues such as listening skills, safeguarding and data protection. A session led by the hospice’s physiotherapist taught us how to help the patients we support with their exercises and also how to help them up from their chairs without risking our own health.
Over the years I have volunteered in a number of roles supporting activities for children and disabled people, and still work with a local Brownie group, and I fit this in around my job with Natural England. At the moment, I am also studying for an access to higher education qualification and will start at the University of Worcester on a nursing degree.
My role at St Richard’s has given me so much – not only a great sense of wellbeing from being able to help a couple in need, but also some real practical skills that I know will be invaluable to me as I start my new career in nursing.
Ellie Bulman, Community Services Volunteer