Why do you volunteer at Northern Ireland Children's Hospice?
I have previously volunteered in adult and care of the elderly services however, I had never worked with children before. I decided that Northern Ireland Children's Hospice would be a fantastic environment to exercise communication and teamwork skills.
What sort of tasks are involved in your role?
I am involved in both pool spotting and support roles within the Hospice. As a pool spotter it’s my role to take responsibility for ensuring the family, whilst in the pool, is safe and have everything they need. Pool spotting volunteers also take responsibility in setting up the pool area with appropriate equipment, music and moving and handling aids if needed. The area is cleaned after use in preparation for the next session, refreshments and an area to relax is prepared for the family before their journey home. A supportive role entails many tasks dependent on the time and day at which you may be volunteering. Some of the main tasks I would undertake would be: writing clothing lists on arrival, steam cleaning toys, tidying play areas and setting up entertainment for the children as well as laundry and ironing for the families. Each role in the hospice is so versatile and dependent on the day- no two sessions are the same!
What is the best thing about being part of Northern Ireland Children's Hospice?
I find it an absolute privilege to work with such a dedicated team of individuals in Horizon House that are experts in their own field and very inspirational to all us volunteers. It’s also extremely humbling to spend time with children that are so special in their own individual ways and a volunteer always leaves their session feeling they’ve lifted a weight off the shoulders of families, nurses and care assistants. I have gained valuable experience and insight into an area of healthcare that needs so much recognition for the care that is provided for the most precious of patients.
What would you say to prospective volunteers?
Do it! Get stuck in to whatever role you wish to do, be part of the team and get to know those around you. Help out when help is needed, ask questions and try new things. Don’t be shy and always remember that you are so valuable in the work you provide whether it’s doing a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of siblings or dishing out dinner for a thankful family. Use every opportunity to develop your skills and remember that the cliché still stands: the more hard work you put in the greater the rewards you will gain.