Volunteering is one of those win-win situations which benefits both parties.
And, heartwarmingly, it’s often the volunteers who say they get more out than they put in.
Three Hospice at Home volunteers reveal why they find it so rewarding – and why more people should offer to help. All three decided to volunteer after reading about it in our sister paper, the Herald&Post.
Post office manager Kiran Kaler’s first client was into horse racing.
The 53-year-old mother-of-three – who decided to volunteer after her children had grown up and moved on – said: “He was quite poorly and I was really there to give his wife a break.
“But he needed support himself. He enjoyed sitting watching Channel 4, placing bets, and wanted company. It was something quite different for me, almost out of my comfort zone.
“But what surprised me most was the way he’d organised his whole life, in spite of being so ill.
“He was very level headed and everything was in place for his wife. He’d sorted out the insurance and put everything in her name.
“He wasn’t just thinking about himself, he was really brave and I found that so inspiring.”
Sadly he didn’t live long enough for them to develop a relationship but she really clicked with her next client, an outgoing and bubbly woman who didn’t want visiting on a regular basis.
Pulloxhill-based Kiran said: “She planned so many things for us to do. She loved exploring new villages and going shopping.
“But there were times when she wasn’t well and didn’t want to see anyone. And that was fine.
“We never discussed her illness and she was only 49 when she died. It was hard letting go because she’d been such a part of my life.
“I was invited to her funeral and had a lovely letter from her parents saying how much I’d helped them all.”
Kiran firmly believes volunteering should be compulsory. “You get so much back,” she explained.
Retired Warden Hills credit controller Eric Whitmarsh, 73, found himself with a new interest when he saw his first client.
“I took him out once a week plane spotting round Luton airport and Dunstable Downs,” he recalled.
“He was so enthusiastic. We’d just drive around and sit in the car watching aircraft going over.
“I learned so much from him – when I go on holiday with my wife now I can tell her what sort of plane we’re flying in.”
Eric, who enjoys keeping busy, said: “You get so much satisfaction helping people. I would highly recommend it.”
Mum-of-two Jo Blower, 33, remembered her first client, a lady in her 90s, was very hard of hearing and short-sighted.
“She took lots of little naps. But when she woke up she’d remember exactly where she’d left off,” Jo smiled.
“She’d been a head gardener and I learned so much about vegetables and plants.
“She liked looking at photo albums and she also asked me about myself.”
Jo, a newborn baby screener from Lewsey, said her next client had had a very high-powered job but his illness had left him feeling isolated: “He couldn’t use his body so it was important for him to use his brain.
“We’d research hobbies and things that interested him. I’d look them up on the internet or in books.”
She added: “You come in contact with all sorts of people you’d never normally meet. And you learn so much.
“You don’t feel like you’re volunteering, it’s not a chore.”
> If you’ve got some spare time, have good listening skills and are kind and caring, Hospice at Home would like to hear from you. Ring lead co-ordinator Elaine Foster on 01582 497809 or email email@example.com