What’s your volunteering role?

I started off doing ward clerking and then that evolved into receptionist as COVID-19 restrictions meant that I could no longer be on the ward. I now partly do reception duties and help with the lateral flow testing once a week, so that visitors can be let in to the ward, which is such a positive thing. 

When I started, I shadowed two very experienced volunteers who knew everybody and everything on both the ward and at reception. But I felt that I could do more on the ward, so I started there. It gave me a lot of confidence to be able to learn in that way.

I really enjoy looking after people coming in and out all the time on reception, but I hope that I’ll be able to do both ward clerking and being on reception when everything starts opening up again.

How long have you volunteered at Katharine House?

I started in January 2020, but I was only on the ward for about three months because of COVID. We quickly couldn’t go on the wards because of the restrictions, so I then moved to reception as many of the receptionists were isolating themselves.

Why did you choose to volunteer at the hospice?

I moved here about five years ago and after doing a couple of house renovations I came to a bit of a stop and felt that I needed to do something else. I had a nursing background and I lived around the corner, and also had a friend who’s a bereavement counsellor here who talked very positively about the hospice. So I built up the confidence to approach the hospice as you were looking for ward clerks at the time. I wanted to give it a go to see how it would work out.

What do you like about volunteering at Katharine House?

I really like the sense of purpose that I get here as well as the sense of achievement through helping people. The hospice is very welcoming and friendly. It’s a very positive experience talking to, say, a relative and putting them at their ease; or, when I was working on the ward, I might do a jigsaw puzzle with a visitor or talk to them about simple things, rather than the illness itself.

How do you feel when you walk out of here?

I feel worthwhile and that I’ve achieved something. It’s also good to talk with members of staff as well as visitors. I think that feeling positive is the best word. It’s very fulfilling. The environment at the hospice is so welcoming - everyone is so helpful and nothing is too much trouble.

What skills have you gained from volunteering?

Confidence and a bit more self-belief as I needed to believe that I could be valuable again. I’ve gained some strength in myself.

What would you say to a friend about volunteering here?

Do it! A lot of people have skills that they don’t feel they have. The good thing about Katharine House is that they don’t necessarily want people with skills with a big ‘S’, they just want people to be a part of a team. They don't expect you to become an overnight million pound fundraiser, they're just welcoming and want you to be a part of the hospice.

The staff are incredibly willing to share their knowledge and information. They have continued to work so hard and remain so positive and upbeat. You never see a round shoulder. They are very proud of where they work and there’s been no change in the staff attitude this past year, even after everything they’ve worked through. They remain so affable and want to have a laugh and a joke. That’s the first thing I got when I went to work on the wards - you can have a laugh, you can have a joke; it’s not discouraged. It’s very upbeat.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your volunteering?

I very much enjoy walking and reading and have been watching a few too many box sets on Netflix. I can’t wait to travel again and I don’t want to have to cook everyday! I want to go to a restaurant, the pub and have a glass of wine in the garden again with my friends. And oh to have to make a choice about what to wear every day!