Last week was Student Volunteering Week. Organised by the Student Volunteering Network, the week aims to improve student wellbeing, develop students’ employability and help them contribute positively to their local community. Molly Edwards, 18, is a college student hoping to pursue a career in nursing. She volunteers every Thursday with the Hospitality Team at St Catherine’s Hospice. Here she tells us more about her role and why she thinks other people should volunteer:
“I’ve always known about St Catherine’s as I live nearby, but I started to learn more about their services when my Dad knew someone who was cared for there. He spoke so fondly of the hospice and everything they do, so I wanted to volunteer to give something back to a local charity, as well as gain invaluable experience in a healthcare setting that I hope will help me in my future career.
I’ve been volunteering at St Catherine’s since September 2018. I help out in the kitchen and take the tea trolley round the wards. People are often shocked when I tell them where I volunteer. They don’t expect it, especially from someone my age. But I use my volunteering as a chance to tell people more about the care St Catherine’s provides to people in our community.
I do the tea round with another older volunteer, Peggy. She’s been at the hospice since it first opened and was so supportive when I first started. Despite our age difference, I really enjoy talking to her. And I like spending time with people of different ages who I wouldn’t normally meet outside of my volunteering.
The hospice staff are all lovely too. I’m only at the hospice for two hours each week so I didn’t think people would even know who I am, but the staff have taken the time to get to know me and include me.
The role is very rewarding and patients and their families are always so appreciative. Every week I meet someone different so sometimes it can be challenging to find common ground to chat to them but it’s a skill I’ve enjoyed learning. Sometimes finding out the way someone takes their coffee can brighten their day.
Since volunteering at St Catherine’s, I’ve learnt how compassionate you need to be, not only to patients, but to staff as well. It might sound cliché, but volunteering here has given me a different outlook on life. Death is inevitable but it’s still such a taboo subject for many people. At the hospice nothing is taken for granted though.
My advice to other people who are thinking of volunteering is: yes, being in a hospice is different and it can be hard or a bit of a shock at the start, but it’s the most wonderful thing to do! I was a bit apprehensive when I first started but there’s plenty of support and now, I couldn’t imagine not volunteering here. There are so many volunteer roles at St Catherine’s there really is something for everyone.
And you can give as much or as little time as you are able. I give two hours a week to fit around college. Two hours is nothing really and most people could spare that a week. Not only will you be making a big difference to your local hospice, but it will help you gain skills and experience or help you to meet new people. Plus St Catherine’s always has plenty of delicious cakes to enjoy after a shift!”