St Catherine’s Hospice couldn’t provide its expert care services to local terminally ill people and their family and friends without the support of more than 800 volunteers.
As part of national Hospice Care Week, St Catherine’s shines a light on just one of them – Graham Ellis. Thanks to Graham’s support, St Catherine’s is able to offer the people it cares for meditation. Last year alone, Graham provided 144 meditation sessions and here, he shares what he gains from volunteering.
“I’ve been volunteering at St Catherine’s for the past three years. I began volunteering after a well loved friend was cared for in another hospice. I was so impressed by the care he received, I got in touch with St Catherine’s to see if I could help by offering meditation to patients, carers and staff.
The hospice movement has taken over my life and I love it
I’m at St Catherine’s three days a week, offering meditation to individual people staying on the wards and providing group meditation in Day Hospice. I’ve recorded meditation CDs for people to use at home, and also relatives referred via the Patient and Family Support Team.
When I’m doing meditation people physically relax, I can just feel it! The room becomes very calm and peaceful, and it’s wonderful to see everybody smile after a session. It’s like a cloud of tiredness or depression has lifted off them. When people tell me the difference meditation has made, by helping them to sleep or feel better, it’s lovely.
The empathy and compassion people are shown here makes things easier. Nobody should have to die alone, and thanks to the wonderful support of St Catherine’s, they don’t have to. You also know when relatives are left behind they’ll be supported. Meditation might not take away people’s grief but it’s another tool for them to use.
Volunteering at St Catherine’s has made a real difference to my life
I gain as much from spending time with patients as they do from meditation. I get great wisdom from the varied people I meet here and it’s a privilege to be part of their lives. To hear their stories is a truly wonderful experience.
There’s fantastic support for volunteers
If you’re wondering if volunteering at St Catherine’s is for you, just go for it! Don’t allow any reservation or worry to stop you. It doesn’t matter how you give your time, every voluntary role is important and exists for the benefit of the people being cared for.
It’s sometimes difficult to step out into the real world after being at St Catherine’s
But if you didn’t you wouldn’t appreciate the special atmosphere. The hospice truly deserves the support of local people because it’s an amazing place. The compassion and sheer dedication the staff and my fellow volunteers show means no one coming to the hospice ever has to worry. You could call it paradise with amazing people and lovely cakes but it’s more than that, it’s love, compassion and caring. It’s a pure world of peace and stillness and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. There’s really no better place to be, as a volunteer or patient.”