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It makes my day when people tell me I’ve made a difference…

Ros Simmonds

Last month we celebrated Hospice Care Week. Hospices provide physical and emotional care to terminally ill people and their family and friends. But to do this, they depend on the support of people in their community, and volunteers.

More than 1,000 people across the areas where you live volunteer their time, energy and talents to support St Catherine’s Hospice. Here, Ros Simmonds, who has volunteered with the local charity for seven years, explains why she volunteers for her local hospice. 

“I’d always wanted to do something for charity and I liked the idea of making a difference to people facing the end of their life. When I first started volunteering I helped in the hospice coffee shop but I was keen to have more interaction with patients. So when a ward volunteer role was created I moved into doing that. I started volunteering on the wards serving supper, but now I volunteer as a Ward Assistant giving patients hand massages. 

I volunteer as part of the Therapies team, they’re a great team to work alongside. Every week when I come in there’s a list of patients who’d like a hand massage waiting for me, so I set to work making my way around the ward. 

I’m quite a touchy, feely person and I enjoy reaching out and having a connection with people. Some people fall asleep while I’m doing their hand massages then apologise afterwards but it’s a compliment that I’ve managed to relax them so much! Other people chat while I’m with them. People tell me about their family, their work life, and the things they’ve done. It’s important to remember that everyone has a life behind their illness and I really enjoy hearing about it. Each person has their own stories and experiences; they’re not just a person in a bed. 

One lady I was with recently told me about the books she’s written. I went home thinking of her and I’ve brought one of her books to read now. I often reflect on conversations I’ve had with people and think about what interesting lives they’d had. 

Other people tell me about their illness and what they’re going through. I do become fond of people while they’re here, so when I learn that someone has passed away, it can be sad, but the team are very supportive. I speak to someone at the start and end of my volunteering shift, and I leave anything behind before I head home.  

It makes my day when people tell me I’ve made a difference to them and it’s nice when they appreciate what I do. One lady told me I took away her pain. Hearing that was amazing. There was another time a gentleman on the ward was in a lot of pain. I went and sat beside him while the doctors altered his medication. After he’d settled back down, he turned to me and said, ‘Thank you so much for sitting with me when the pain was at its worst.’ I was really touched. 

I love volunteering at St Catherine’s. It’s like being part of a big family, and I feel so well appreciated.  

Volunteering has filled a gap for me and given me an opportunity to show care and love to others in my community. It gives me chance to give something back.”

If, like Ros, you’d like to make a difference to local terminally ill people please visit: 

www.stch.org.uk/volunteer, call St Catherine’s Volunteering Team on 01293 447351 or email: volunteering@stch.org.uk 

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