Volunteer stories

Matthew Kane - Health & Wellbeing Centre Volunteer

Matthew Ward volunteers at North London Hospice’s Health & Wellbeing Centre in Winchmore Hill. Here he describes a little bit more about what his role as a volunteer entails.

I first heard of North London Hospice through family friends who had spoken highly of their services. Seeing the positive impact that the Hospice had on patients and their families made me want to get involved. I was also keen to develop an ability to interact with patients and gain some experience working regularly in a healthcare setting, which would better prepare me for the challenges of a career in medicine, which is my future ambition.

Typically, I work at the Winchmore Hill site in the front office, where I handle staff and patient information. Here, I am also responsible for greeting patients and families upon arrival and for receiving phone calls when needed. Later in the day I also get the chance to chat to patients in the social area and accompany them with the driver if they require transport home. I am also responsible for assisting with the locking up of the hospice at the end of the day.

I volunteer on Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 – 5:00 in between my A level studies at college.

I would encourage anyone thinking about volunteering for North London Hospice as it’s a hugely rewarding experience, where you have the opportunity to improve the lives of patients and their families through your work. I would also point out that even people with a busy working week can get involved, with just a few hours work at the Hospice each week you can make a difference. In terms of settling in at the Hospice, I found the staff hugely supportive and they really helped me to quickly grow into my new role.

One aspect of working at the Hospice that I enjoy is working within a team, alongside dedicated volunteers, to provide a range of services for patients to use. Seeing the benefits that our visitors gain from these services is hugely rewarding and is what makes this role so unique. I also enjoy the variation that comes with working here, where no two days are ever the same. The different challenges faced as a hospice volunteer provides the opportunity to develop a variety of skills that are applicable to a wide range of professions.

Maurice Healy - Loss and Transition Volunteer

“The primary work of the Hospice – giving care and support to the terminally ill  – is both wonderful and desperately needed  and I am proud to be associated with it.  But the Hospice is also committed to support those close to the dying person and it has recognised that many of them need support after their bereavement. For me, it is a privilege to accept someone’s grief, its history and complications, to help them come to terms with their loss and to sit with them as they seek the way to manage the transition to a new life without the person they have lost.  It enriches me.”

Abeena - Volunteers on our patient ward

“I really enjoy volunteering at the Hospice, it’s really grounding. It helps your appreciate life and health and gives you a real insight into the importance that doctors and nurses roles have to play. As a volunteer you are given full training and there is always support for you, you are never thrown into the deep end. I find it so rewarding and I would urge more younger people to give volunteering a go.”

Pam - Our volunteer gardener

Pat decided to put her gardening skills to good use by volunteering to maintain the patient gardens at North London Hospice in Finchley. Here she tells us why she volunteers and what she gets out of the experience.

I completed my second year at Capel Manor College achieving Level 1 & 2 in Practical Horticulture skills in June 2017. My aim, when taking the courses, was to be more confident in gardening at home but also to explore volunteering opportunities. A good friend of mine volunteers once a week in the Admin department and said the Hospice had people working in the garden.

I volunteer one day a week (this is quite flexible but usually a Tuesday or Thursday) for approximately 6 hours.

The Hospice is a local community facility providing amazing end of life care and I felt I could contribute in a small way to this by keeping the garden under control! I live in North Finchley so can walk here.

The garden was redesigned a number of years ago so at the moment I am carrying out basic garden maintenance tasks i.e. weeding, pruning and generally getting the garden ready for winter. I have also split some of the plants and rearranged a couple of the beds and provided lavender for a craft activity at the Health & Wellbeing Centre in Barrowell Green.

There is a wonderful atmosphere at the Hospice where everyone is friendly, welcoming, eager to help and very appreciative of everything I have done. There is tea and cake every afternoon at 3pm (I usually wait until 3.30pm when there’s some left over!).

I have City & Guilds levels 1 & 2 in Practical Horticulture skills. I’ve also attended the Hospice’s ‘Is volunteering for you’ and Blue training that the Hospice offer.

There haven’t been volunteers in the garden for many years now so there is plenty to do. Also, it would be good to have someone(s) to talk things through about what needs to be done and how. So if anyone fancies lending a hand in the garden please do get in contact with the Hospice.