‘You can end up being the one person who can brighten up their day’

Geoff started volunteering at St Wilfrid’s in early 2019, initially in a Host role supporting the team on the Inpatient Unit (IPU). He says, ‘After a while I took a break from volunteering as I got a job, but I missed being part of the team here. So, a couple of months ago I started back again as a Community Service Volunteer (CSV).’

But what does the role of a CSV involve? ‘I’ve got a lovely chap who, until the lockdown started, I would visit at his home once a week,’ says Geoff. ‘I’d spend a few hours with him, have a cuppa, ‘chew the fat’ and share stories. But in the current climate I’m now contacting him by phone three or four times a week, doing the same sort of thing; it means I can check and see how he’s doing.’ Geoff is also trying to help by dropping a few beers round and ‘I’m trying to find him some growbags too’.  Geoff’s calls provide a bright spot in the day; ‘His wife says he really looks forward to the calls and that makes me feel that it’s really important.’

Geoff’s training for the CSV role included induction, manual handling, safeguarding, taking someone out on a trip, confidentiality and security. ‘For example,’ he says, ‘what if the person you are helping asks you to go shopping and use their credit or debit card?’

I asked Geoff what he had learned from his time as a volunteer? ‘I think it’s that you’ve always got something to give and you’ve always got something to learn. You can end up being the one person who can brighten up their day.’ He added, ‘As a volunteer you’re also able to give support to the whole family. It’s the impact on the carer which is as valuable as to the patient.’

So what would Geoff say to someone unsure about whether they had anything to offer as a volunteer? ‘Just give it a try. There are so many different roles within volunteering at St Wilfrid’s that there will be at least one that suits you.’ As he says, ‘The volunteer roles underpin the work of the hospice; it couldn’t offer the range and level of services it does without volunteers. There is something for everybody. Your time is valuable to a place like this and, whoever you are, you can make a difference.’

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