It's the last day of national Volunteers' Week and we hope we've persuaded you to join our team.

It's the last day of national Volunteers' Week and we hope we've persuaded you to join our team! Today we chat to Cathy Slater, from Grimsby, who has volunteered in the day unit for 14 years.

Cathy first came into contact with the hospice after her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“I had to face some fears through looking after her,” said Cathy, “and as she progressed through the illness, we came to look round.

“She didn’t actually stay but I knew there was a body of people here who I could contact, day or night, if I needed help. That alone was a huge thing to me, because I’m an only child. There was just myself and my mother, although we had relatives, so just knowing there was that expertise to tap into whenever I wanted was just enormous. It removed a lot of stress.

“A cancer diagnosis can be frightening because you just don’t know what is going to happen. Luckily with my mother, teams of people just seemed to come into place. I met fantastic people I wouldn’t normally have met, so out of something dreadful came something good.

“The nurses here are marvellous. They made it bearable and showed me what to do. Having gone through illness with my mother, I really wanted to see if I could transfer that care to other people. I didn’t know whether I could, quite frankly. I was petrified but I gave it a try, and I’ve been here 14 years.

“A typical day involves meeting and greeting the patients, having a tea or coffee and chatting about their week and sorting out any dietary requests for lunch. Then we perhaps play a game or another activity. We have a marvellous craft area here for crafts such as painting or card-making, anything people want to do. If patients don’t want to do any of that, it’s quite ok to just sit. Sometimes they want to open up; if, as a volunteer, you can just be a good listener and be there when you’re needed, that’s the main thing.

“There’s so much going on here and the hospice offers a lot. You can stay for respite, for example, which is a break for yourself and your family. There are lots of other things, like complementary therapy treatments. It isn’t sad at all, it’s a wonderful place of care with a very positive and uplifting atmosphere.

“Being a volunteer is very rewarding. I’ve made good friends and met people I wouldn’t have normally met. It enriches my life in a way I can’t really describe. It feels safe here, and everyone is so kind and respectful.  

“There are so many different areas and roles you can become a volunteer for. I’ve had to face some fears, but it’s a challenge. I like increasing my knowledge and do the best I can in life. I feel privileged and honoured to be part of such an amazing team. It makes you realise you should make the most of what you have.

“I would urge everyone to come in and visit The Hub, a wonderful place for the public to enjoy, and see what we are about. This area has a lovely facility and it’s for everyone. You will be amazed and uplifted.”

For more information about current volunteering opportunities, visit www.standrewshospice.com or phone 01472 350908.

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