“Life in this building is probably not what people imagine it to be.”
When you enter the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Barrowell Green, Winchmore Hill, one of the first smiles that greets you is that of Peri Emirali, one of North London Hospice’s volunteers.
Peri’s involvement with North London Hospice began three years ago when the charity cared for her mother Vasfiye following her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer.
Here Peri talks about how she became involved with the Hospice and what motivates her to give her time to a place that ‘enables people to live’.
“After mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer we were referred to the North London Hospice palliative care team. I didn’t know much about the Hospice then. One of the community nurses came to visit mum at her home in Edmonton and we talked about how she could support us in managing her pain and what her wishes were. She was so patient, kind and caring.
“Mum was invited to attend the Health and Wellbeing Centre and it was here that she met so many lovely people. She used to look forward to coming and socialising. She enjoyed the singalong’s, art and the great company. One of my fondest memories was of her singing along with the violinist in the centre’s living room.
“On other days she was able to have acupuncture and reflexology to help relieve her pain. Mum found the centre calming and the staff very loving.
“Mum wanted to die at home and I knew that North London Hospice would support her when the time came. The Hospice enabled us as a family to have this choice. Mum wanted as much normality around her as possible. When it came to the end of her life she was surrounded by her family. She died comfortably surrounded by the people she loved.”
“People mustn’t be frightened of the Hospice; it’s just a word that we’re conditioned to feel frightened of. I knew the first day that I entered through the Hospice’s doors that it was a place that I wanted to support. A year after mum’s death I applied to be a front of house volunteer at the Health and Wellbeing Centre and to offer my support with their social programme.
“The people who come here have a life-limiting illness but what I find is they are so positive and have such energy. It really rubs off on you. I love meeting the patients and their families. We always have a laugh and they tell me their stories. We sit and play dominoes, make cards and jewellery. The patients are all very special and that’s why we’re here, to make the unbearable bearable.
“People are given space, time and flexibility to talk through things with experts who know about living with quality of life not just about dying, and who know about dealing with the impact of a life-threatening illness, practically, emotionally, physically on every level. And that’s the support you get when you come to North London Hospice.”