‘I had regularly passed the hospice, wondering what lay beyond’
Patsy Dinc began volunteering at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in 2018. In celebration of our 40th Anniversary Year, she has kindly shared her volunteering story with us:
‘I had regularly passed the hospice and looked inquiringly at the sign, wondering what lay beyond. Like so many people, the word ‘hospice’ conjured up negative images. However, these thoughts were soon dissolved and I was amazed when I first walked through the doors. I was greeted by welcoming staff and volunteers and was introduced to The Street – a lively, yet calming café, a colourful charity shop and a room of peace where one can find either strength through religion or your own spirituality. As I left, I knew this was a place where I wanted to start giving something to others, rather than spending my extra free time purely for myself.
‘My role was to become Minibus Escort. Having met Vin, the van driver who I was to accompany, I immediately looked forward to my weekly trips out into the community. Every Wednesday, we would drive off into the sunrise and collect patients for physiotherapy, assessments, wellbeing or carer groups. My tasks included helping to get shoes on, checking people had their keys and locking the door as we left, helping with wheelchairs, fastening seat belts, and most importantly, building up confidence when needed. I even fed a cat on one occasion!
‘I initially wanted to help with the Art Group. Some people we brought in attended the sessions, so gradually I was able to join in and got to know Sue who ran the group. One of my fondest memories is a dear lady who had been an art teacher in her day. As a painter myself, we immediately exchanged painting anecdotes. Every week we brought her back to her canvas and sometimes I sat with her too. The last time I saw her I gave her a knitted heart which was on sale in the hospice. Her gratitude and smile remain with me today.
‘Meeting all these people has been extremely thought provoking. Their strength, determination and downright will power has forced me to look at my own life and lack of appreciation for what I have. Many moments have stayed with me: a huge smile from ear to ear from a young woman with a brain tumour; a warm thank you from a lady in a wheelchair – when we picked her up, she had breathing difficulties, but she told us we made her feel calm and secure. That was so rewarding.
‘Volunteering has made me cry but, more often than not, it has made me laugh. The sense of achievement I feel at the end of each shift is so satisfying. I go home feeling that I have made a difference to someone’s life. I made them smile or simply held their arm.
‘Of course, the hospice would not be what it is without the amazing staff, who give their all every moment. Everyone I have met has made an impression on me with their caring attitudes and cheerful dispositions.
‘Volunteering is a two-way process… you give and you receive. Thank you, St Wilfrid’s. You are doing a marvellous job for the community.’