Pauline Price, 73, has volunteered for Acorns Children’s Hospice in Worcester for 13 years. Here she tells ehospice what she loves about it.
My first volunteering job was at the old Worcester Hospital working in the shop as well as the cafe at the Newtown branch. After three years I had to take early retirement due to arthritis in my hands. This meant I also had to give up my voluntary work as I was claiming sickness benefit.
Around two years later I heard about the new Acorns Children’s Hospice being built in Worcester and thought, “what a place to volunteer.” It was at a concert being held to raise money for the hospice that I was introduced to a gentleman who was overseeing the work there. I told him I was interested in volunteering at the new hospice and he gave me his card and said to ring when I was ready. This I did when I reached the age of 60 and I was called for an interview.
I offered my services in three places: befriending, reception and helping in the kitchen. After being accepted as a volunteer, I was given some training. It was here I met other volunteers before the hospice actually opened. I have now been at Acorns for 13 years and I enjoy every moment I am there.
Befriending a child can be done in so many ways: sitting talking to them; talking to them while taking them round the lovely gardens in their wheelchairs; sitting reading to them; doing art work; playing musical instruments or just lying quietly with them in the Sensory Room. At times you wonder if the child is aware that you are there but when you suddenly get a smile from them it is clear they know you are with them! Sometimes we befriend their siblings as well, which usually is completely different as they are able to work with you. I also go out on trips with them on occasion too.
I enjoy working in the kitchen very much. As I am only in there for one-and-a-half hours, my duties are usually filling and emptying the dishwashers and clearing the tables after meals. But, as I am always being told, “these are still important jobs.”
Next, I go on reception for the afternoon. This I love as I am the first point of contact when a visitor or parent rings the bell. I get to know so many people whilst sitting in reception. I am a person that loves to talk to other people so this is my ideal job!
I also now do tours of the hospice which involve taking members of the public around the building. These people have usually been involved in raising money for Acorns in some way or another.
When I told my family that I wanted to volunteer at Acorns they did not think I would be able to do it as I am a very emotional person. I am very pleased to say I proved them wrong. Yes, if course it can be very sad sometimes at Acorns, but we have very good support from all the staff and we learn to deal with it in our own way.
I also started to volunteer for Macmillan seven years ago at the Royal Worcestershire Hospital. This is very different to Acorns but just as enjoyable. Yes, I know it is very sad when someone comes into the Hub when they feel everything is going against them but by talking and listening to them, we can usually make them feel much happier. We can give them advice on so many things. My aim is to try and send them on their way with a smile on their face – and I am pleased to say I do this quite often!
By reading what I have written I hope you can see why I love volunteering, I just love to be able to help people and try to make life a bit better for them.
I am now 73 but I hope I can carry on volunteering for another few years and continue to enjoy doing my two ‘jobs’.
For more information visit Acorns Children’s Hospice