Meet Maggie, where she explains how she started volunteering at Katharine House and why she then moved on to bereavement support work. Following this video, Maggie talked to us more about her volunteer role.

What was so appealing about the role?

In my previous working role as Deputy Head, my focus was on pastoral work, so I am aware how helpful it can be to have someone to talk to, who will listen without judgement. I’ve completed a wide range of courses in counselling and have developed a genuine passion for how best to help someone facing difficult challenges. So, bereavement support felt like a good fit for me. It’s definitely a role that requires personal resilience and was something that I felt I had the capacity take on.

Our purpose is somewhat different to the medical professionals at Katharine House, who are trying to support patients through excellent palliative care, including pain management. Part of what we do in bereavement support work is witnessing and validating the pain of loss, to stay with the client on their grief journey. Grief isn’t something that’s wrong. It’s a natural process and takes as long as it takes. We don’t try to fix their grief, but help people carry their pain.

What do you enjoy about bereavement counselling?

The bereavement support work offers a special service, it is a valuable way to give back to the local community. It’s something that’s always challenging, definitely meaningful. 

I think helping people to manage their grief is a huge privilege; clients trust you with deeply important personal experiences, which they might not have shared with others. Without a doubt I’ve got as much out of volunteering, as, I hope, the people I’ve been working with. I have learned an enormous amount form each individual client.

Without fail, clients say how compassionately their loved ones are treated, how staff went above and beyond the call of duty, and during the final moments they witnessed care with dignity in death. 

People feel a very strong connection to the hospice and are unbelievably grateful for the kindness and care they have received. It helps make the unbearable a bit more bearable.

What would you say to a friend about volunteering at Katharine House?

I would say definitely do it! People may not know how reliant the hospice is on the huge team of volunteers. There’s a range of different roles you can explore and a reasonable amount of flexibility timewise. Bereavement support might not be for you, but there are many other areas needing volunteers, from gardening to maintenance, being on reception to welcome people to the hospice or in the inpatient ward. Speak to people at Katharine House and go volunteer!

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I am a school governor, a runner and like going to the gym. I’m also a member of the Hook Norton Literary Society, Sibford Book Group and a rather 'haphazard' but enthusiastic gardener. I also love travelling and doing things with my family.

Katharine House Hospice