Paul Foster has been volunteering at St Wilfrid’s since December 2018. However, prior to that Paul had already got ‘on his bike’ to cycle 100 miles raising funds for the hospice and for Pancreatic Cancer UK - read his journey here. Paul undertook the ride in memory of his wife Denise, who died in May 2018, raising over £3000.


Paul is part of the Host Volunteer team working on the In-Patient Unit (IPU). ‘I don’t have a set day,’ says Paul, ‘I come in for a four hour shift when there are gaps in the rota which I can fill, depending on other commitments I have.

‘Denise was in the hospice for the last six weeks of her life until she died from pancreatic cancer. The care and support she had as an in-patient was so good and opened my eyes to what goes on here. Like most people, until you visit here you have no idea about what’s involved.

‘People might think of it as a place where people go to die, but it’s much more than that. It’s somewhere to come and socialise, in the café; it’s a nice place to be. So I felt I wanted to give something back - to help others the way we had been helped in those last weeks of Denise’s life.’

What does being a Host Volunteer involve? ‘Working on IPU involves things like taking food to patients, taking orders for meals, making tea and coffee, topping their water up – it’s a bit like being a waiter really!’ Paul adds, ‘Really it’s anything you can do to make their stay as comfortable as possible. If you have a bit of time it’s also nice to sit with a patient and have a chat, give them some company.’ Paul says that what volunteers do is ‘to support the nurses, freeing up some of their time so they can concentrate on doing what they do best.’

Although the role involves patient contact, Paul didn’t need any special training other than the two-day induction, which includes safeguarding and confidentiality. He says, ‘You don’t get involved in anything clinical, you’re just going in and meeting patients and their families, chatting when you can.’

Paul says the most rewarding part of the role is meeting people who he’d met previously when their loved one was in the hospice and then passed away. As someone who experienced loss himself he feels a sort of bond with them. ‘Having been on the receiving end myself it does mean I’ve got some empathy and it’s nice to think that we can have a shared experience.’

Paul says that coming back as a volunteer is a way of helping him remember Denise. ‘It’s somewhere we spent six weeks together and every time I walk in I think of her.’ He adds ‘Although this is the place where she died there’s lots of happy memories of our time here too. I got to know lots of the staff and it’s nice to continue to see them through volunteering.’

To those not sure about volunteering, Paul says ‘You don’t need to be anything special, you don’t need special training. There’s always someone around to help and it’s really nice to be able to help other people.’

There are hundreds of jobs which need doing within the work of the charity, and they may not all be obvious. Why not visit the Volunteer pages on this site or contact the Voluntary Services team at [email protected] and see what opportunities await you.