Gill – Receptionist & Shop Volunteer

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“I’ve never had a day at St Clare that I haven’t enjoyed. I always go home feeling that I have done some good here, and it makes me feel better about myself.”

“My first experience of a hospice was not at St Clare’s. It was with my brother who was in a hospice in Watford, 10 years ago now. I sat with him and I could see how busy the nurses were there – even answering the phone on reception and opening the door for visitors. The nurses never had time to themselves.”

“I made a pact with my brother before he died, that when I retired I would volunteer for my local hospice. It was a promise that I made to him, and that is what I did as soon as I retired, which was 9 years ago.”

“When you retire it can be a very difficult time. You go from working 9-5 and then suddenly you think, what am I going to do with myself? Although I retired, I wasn’t ready to retire, because I like interaction with people. I didn’t want to be wasting my time sitting around at home.”

“After I retired I moved house, and spent a few months decorating the house from top to bottom. When that was done I thought, now is the time to put my pact into operation. And I gave St Clare Hospice a call.”

“I spoke to the volunteer manager at the time, a man called Giles, and he spoke about the need for volunteers on reception.”

“I used to work in a bank, and love speaking to people, and thought volunteering as a receptionist would be wonderful – and I have never looked back!”

“It’s been wonderful working at St Clare – it’s such a warm and loving place. I look forward every morning that I know I am coming to volunteer – which is four days a week in different departments. It’s just so rewarding for me, and it also brings my brother to mind every time.”

“Every time I open the door to come into the hospice I feel I’m fulfilling the promise I made to my brother. I work with such wonderful people. You can have a laugh, and you can just relate to everyone that works here.”

“It is the meeting and greeting at the reception desk that I find so rewarding. No two situations are the same, and I can usually read a person as soon as they come through the door, and gauge how they are feeling. You have to be sensitive to every person’s needs.”

“I love volunteering for St Clare so much that I decided to take on more roles – working at the shops too.”

“I work in the Harlow and Epping shops, sorting through donations and also searching for items that could be sold for more profit on our eBay shop. I find it so interesting doing the research about what something could be worth on eBay, I get so excited when I find something special.”

“The Harlow shop is a really big shop, and we get so many donations through the doors. We need as many volunteers as possible as we can never get to the bottom of the piles of donations. It can be fun sorting through people’s donations – you come across some weird and wonderful things!”

“My favourite thing about volunteering with St Clare’s is the interaction with people.”

“I love meeting and greeting people from different communities. Hopefully I am making a difference to them with a smile and a ‘hello’. It makes me feel good as well, knowing that I am part of the St Clare team. The hospice gives so much love, care and warmth to people when they need it – it’s wonderful to be part of that.”

“So many people out there do not understand what a hospice does, or they have very dark visions of it. Until you walk through the door and experience what it is really like – and you are greeted with a smile, and immediately feel better about it. I think just giving someone a smile makes such a big difference to their day.”

“I’ve never had a day at St Clare that I haven’t enjoyed. I always go home feeling that I have done some good here, and it makes me feel better about myself.”

“I myself have been nursed through cancer twice, and I’m a very, very lucky lady to have got through it – with thanks to the wonderful doctors and nurses I had at my local hospital. Through that time I also had so much support from the doctors and nurses at St Clare too. They were always willing to explain things to me, and make me feel better and reassured.”

“That is the beauty of St Clare – everyone is here to help each other. Whether that be patients, staff or volunteers.”

“When I came in to volunteer, people would always be asking how I was – and they could tell if something was up. I couldn’t hide it from them! Everyone that works here is so caring, and that is not just a work thing, they are caring people 24/7. They have that caring nature – you can’t beat it! That’s the good thing about working here, you’re not only working with colleagues, but with friends.”

“Being at St Clare, you are never alone – you always have someone to talk to. My biggest fear is dying alone, and I just hope when it is my time to go, that I get to St Clare’s – because I know I will go in peace here.”

“You hear such positive comments, and people cannot stop saying ‘thank you’ for the care they and their loved one have received. When I hear those great comments I just think ‘Yes! We did it.’ Because that is what we are all here for.”

“Whenever I am volunteering, whether I am in the shops or on reception, I am always thinking of those patients we are supporting. That is what I am fundraising for, that is why I am up to my armpits sorting through donations! I’m doing it for the patients.”

“I am so passionate about St Clare, and I have been since the day I first walked in. Having been through cancer, and having been so close to needing the care of the hospice myself, it means so much more to me. I was very fortunate, and so I feel I am here to do a job for the people who aren’t as lucky as I am.”

– Gill


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