“I get such a sense of pride to say I volunteer for St Catherine’s.”
As one of our younger volunteers, 26 year-old Sam has volunteered many hours of his time to St Catherine’s Hospice over the last seven years. Inspired by the care that his granddad received, Sam wanted to give something back to the hospice, and has made the most of the volunteering days that he is given by his employer by working in our gardens. Here, Sam (pictured above with his Nan, Jean, who also volunteers at St Catherine’s) tells his story about how he got into volunteering in the first place and why he continues to give up his time to help us:
“For as long as I can remember, Mum has worked at St Catherine’s Hospice. She used to work on the wards as a nurse, and then moved to the Community team. I started volunteering at the hospice during my summer break from university; the holiday’s can be long so I wanted to do something that not only kept me busy, but gave something back to my local community.
I’ve always loved being outside, and had taken on some casual gardening work during the summer, so it seemed an obvious choice to volunteer in the hospice gardens. I gave a few hours of my day each week, and loved being out in the sunshine.
During my first year at university, my granddad was diagnosed with cancer.
He was always such a strong man, and he never complained yet he was very poorly. My mum gave up work for a time, and cared for him at home along with the St Catherine’s community nurses. It was then that I saw firsthand the effect that the hospice and their care have: it was truly eye opening to see Mum switch from ‘Mum’ to ‘Nurse’ and it was during this time that I knew I wanted to continue giving back to the hospice.
When I graduated from university, I started working at PwC in Gatwick. I found they had a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme and offered six volunteering days a year to their employees; the perfect opportunity for me to keep helping out at St Catherine’s. I continued working in the gardens whenever I could take one of my charity days, and I eventually ended up leading an ambassador team who championed CSR at PwC, resulting in more than 40 volunteers giving their time to St Catherine’s Hospice. We covered everything from hospitality to retail, and it was a fantastic chance for us to not only make the most of this team building opportunity, but showcase the amazing work of the hospice that had cared for my granddad.
I left PwC in September 2016 and started working for The Body Shop head office in Littlehampton. It was important to me when applying for jobs that my new employer had a CSR scheme that I could be a part of: my time at St Catherine’s had instilled this in me. The Body Shop also offers charity days, so I was able to continue my work for the hospice.
Volunteering at St Catherine’s means a huge amount to me, and I’m very loyal to the charity.
I love the feeling that I’m giving something back; I sit in an office most of the day, so it’s nice to get out, meet new people and work hard to achieve something. At the end of my day working in the garden, I can stand back and see what I’ve done and know it will make such a difference to the patients.
Having seen my granddad looked after by St Catherine’s, albeit not in the actual hospice, keeps me coming back to offer my time. Spending time here gives me a chance to remember him. Not only is it the memories of my granddad that keep me going, I put myself in the patient’s situation and think to myself: “How would I want to be looked after?” It spurs me on.
Volunteering doesn’t have to be patient facing, which might not be for everyone, and there are so many roles to get involved with: gardening, retail, administration…the possibilities are endless. I get such a sense of pride to say I volunteer for St Catherine’s, and also to say that it’s my employer that allows me to give this time back to a charity that means so much to me.”
Inspired by Sam’s story? Discover what volunteering roles we have available at the moment here, or call our team on 01293 447351.