Why I volunteer: “To help staff focus on patients, not admin”

Categories: Community Engagement.

When I started volunteering, I did not know much about the department. It was only when the team came to visit my parents when my dad, Tom Dickinson, was ill, that I found out more about the services they offer.

My dad passed away in September 2014 here at the hospice, and at the time I said I wanted to volunteer when I felt strong enough. Initially I wanted to help on reception, but the community role was much more ‘me’. 

Each Friday between 8.30 am and 12.30pm I volunteer doing lots of general admin duties such as printing, compiling information packs for patients, ordering supplies, archiving and looking for efficiencies within the community services department. 

My ‘day job’ is Executive Officer at the Child Support Agency four days a week. I am hoping to partially retire when I am 50 next year, and then I would like to help out another day at the hospice.

I have been a civil servant for 30 years and I am experienced using computers. I felt I could use my skills helping with day-to-day admin work to free up the community team’s time. Each week, the team put items in my tray – the more menial tasks that need processing – and I work through them. The team were doing all their own admin support which took them away from the job they are trained and skilled to do.  

I like to think I help them save valuable time with simple things like creating stickers with their contact details on, so they can stick them on to the patients leaflets rather handwriting them each time. I can do the admin job, but I cannot do theirs. I felt that their specialist skills and knowledge were better used looking after patients rather than printing and photocopying things.

My family and I have done a lot of fundraising for the hospice in memory of my dad, like my husband running the New York Marathon, and my daughter Lois and I running the last 5k with him. A team of family, friends and me, who call ourselves Tom’s Amy, are also taking part in this year’s Bubble Rush, hosted by East Lancashire Hospice in May.

I know I do not have to pay anything back for my dad’s care, but we were so lucky that there was a bed available. I would like to pay back the equivalent to ensure the hospice is there for everyone else.

For more information visit East Lancashire Hospice