Our volunteers continue to be an integral and essential to the Hope Specialist Service which was set up back in 2005.
Over the years we’ve had in the region of 250 wonderful people who have volunteered for Hope in many different areas of the service. As well as our Falls and Pulmonary Rehab Buddies, we also have Buddies working at the Hospice, in Early Rehab and in our Rehab Plus maintenance sessions. Meanwhile our Falls Prevention Collaborative Buddies do invaluable work in local care homes and the community, raising awareness of how to reduce the risk of falls.
But there have been many other ways that people have volunteered over the years. They’ve worked in our cafes, run our social clubs and community exercise groups, assisted with our arts and crafts group, raising money for Hope in the process, accompanied the Hope Choir, dug for victory in the Upsy Daisy garden, helped Sylvia on the riverbank with her Piscatorial Codgers fishing club, acted as Trustees for our charity, taken part in heritage projects, helped patients give up smoking and even done DIY and building jobs at our old Hope Street home.
Our volunteers are advocates for our service, critical friends, fundraisers, an empathetic ear and role model for patients, the smiling face that welcomes you at the door, the makers of excellent cups of tea and suppliers of biscuits. Even during the Pandemic, many of them have taken to Zoom and carried on their excellent work in rehab and social groups. They are many things to many people and Hope would not be the service it is without them.
Here are a few of our volunteers’ stories:
ROLLY, FALLS REHAB BUDDY
“I’m a baby as regards being a volunteer. I’ve been doing it for fifteen months. I actually came into the service as a Pulmonary Rehab patient, but I volunteered to go on the Falls side for a selfish reason. I didn’t want to wait until after lunch to do my bit because I’m a morning person, so I wanted to work in the morning.
I get a lot of pleasure seeing patients improve, tremendously in some cases, a little bit in others, but the way they come on makes me feel proud of myself. That’s selfish I know, but I feel good for them and I see the smiles on their faces when maybe after two weeks we say to them “You’ve done that”, after four weeks, “You’ve done that,” and then after eight weeks, “You’ve done that!” So, it gives me a lot of pleasure seeing them.
How has it changed me as a person? I think I’m a bit softer now than I was. If I told people I used to work with that I’m working for nothing they wouldn’t believe it. But I have got more pleasure out of it than I ever thought I would.”
CHRIS, ARTS & CRAFTS/CAFÉ/FALLS PREVENTION COLLABORATIVE VOLUNTEER
“I work mainly in the craft sessions. It has been the biggest pleasure to make stuff and then sell it to raise money for the Hope Street Trust charity and we’ve made quite a bit of money. I also really enjoyed painting the stained-glass panels for the windows at the Val Waterhouse Centre. That was wonderful and I look forward to doing some more.
I’ve worked in the Hope Street Trust’s Galley Café and hopefully we made some money in the café too! It was very hard work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, working with my friends. It was lovely.
I’ve also volunteered in local care homes, working with the Collaborative team as part of the Support to Care Homes project, delivering falls prevention training to care home staff, as well as visiting garden centres and other places in the community, to raise awareness of how to prevent falls in community settings.
It’s been just lovely, feeling useful and doing something when you’ve retired. I love everything that goes on at Hope; it’s wonderful.”
JOHN, PULMONARY REHAB BUDDY
“I first came as a patient in 2008, believe it or not, with my beloved, but I’ve only been a volunteer for the last four years. I enjoy the buzz of helping people along. I’m not in a fit state to do the full Pulmonary Rehab course, I just can’t keep up, so I’ve mainly been doing Early Rehab. So, there’s people who have just had a really bad do or are at a really low ability level, and to bring people on from a pretty low start gives me a hell of a buzz. It makes me feel worthwhile. I have some value; I am of some use to somebody.
Although we can measure how someone’s grip strength has improved or whether they can do more sit-to-stands, the thing that is less easy to measure but really stands out for me is the increase in people’s self-confidence. I remember one patient came to pre-assessment at the Val Waterhouse Centre and she had to go into that great reception area, then down that huge corridor, past that great big gym, full of enormous weight-lifting and jogging machines and cycles to get to the pre-assessment area. This was a little, curled up frightened woman and we got her running up and down the corridor (for the shuttle walk test) and out of breath and then the staff left me with her in the quiet room to do the questionnaires. We had that little ten-minute chat where you can explain to people that of course you’re frightened when you can’t get your breath. Of course, you’re anxious about coming here; it’s a weird, strange place and people are telling you to go to the gym and you can barely breathe. By the time she came out ten minutes later, we were almost engaged!
So it’s not an easy thing to measure, but I can personally see it and I’m sure everyone has seen it and what a difference that makes when you help someone to climb out of a really low, dark place and now there’s a chance that they’re going to go on and go further. For me, it’s great. I feel of value and I think I help folk.
Buddies are different. We’re not staff; we’re not trained medical people, but we have some idea of what it’s like to be on the floor, gasping. We have an idea of what it’s like to be scared that this is the last breath you’re going to draw. And I think that’s where we can connect in a different way and act as an intermediary between a new patient and the experienced professionals.”
Val Waterhouse Centre
41-43 Kent Street
Telephone: 01472 313400
8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday
If you are interested in volunteering with Hope, please get in touch.
New volunteers will be required to complete an induction process and depending on the area in which you wish to volunteer, you may be required to undertake a DBS check.
Shannon embraces the move into her new role with support from Employability Services. Shannon first contacted Employability Services to ask for support to help her