Hilary tells us more:
“Last year I retired from teaching but was very keen to take up some voluntary work, as I have the time, and experiences which are useful and relevant. I was very keen to maintain some contact with children and young people with complex needs as I’ve worked in special education for 35 years and have always enjoyed working with children with additional needs.
“My father-in-law stayed at the Hospice for a short period towards the end of his life and I was impressed with the sensitivity and dignity given to him from all staff during his stay, and their positive and supportive attitude to our family at such a distressing time. However, I wasn’t aware of the Children and Young Adults Service before applying for the volunteer position, but was thrilled when I saw the opportunity advertised.
“When I’m volunteering I’m involved in a range of activities. I join in with anything that Lauren has planned for the children and young adults such as craft and play activities, music therapy sessions, helping in the sensory room, creating memory books, supporting the children to complete jigsaws and other fun tasks. Then there are also practical jobs which I’m able to help with, including preparing boards for displays of children’s art work and photographs.”
Hilary shares with us what she enjoys the most about volunteering at St Oswald’s Children and Young Adults Service:
“I thoroughly enjoy volunteering as I love being with the children and young adults. Throughout my career I’ve always enjoyed forming relationships with children with complex learning and communication needs. Small responses and achievements made by them are incredibly rewarding, and working with like-minded staff who aim to ensure that each child is enabled to have choices, have their communication understood and valued, and are happy and comfortable is something I greatly enjoy. The staff are extremely welcoming and friendly, and being ‘part of the team’ is really rewarding.
“I recently had great fun with a young boy during his messy play session – this resulted in me, Lauren and another member of staff, and the chairs and floor being covered in a mixture of chocolate spread and crushed cereal as he explored these items! Helping him explore and then taste some of the food was great.
It’s also been lovely to watch some of the children taking part in their music therapy sessions, and seeing their responses to the music. This has helped me to get to know the children and appreciate their personalities and how they show enjoyment.”
When asked about volunteering during Covid-19 Hilary said:
“I’ve felt completely safe throughout my visits to the Hospice, and feel that there are very secure protocols in place to ensure the safety of children, staff and volunteers.”
“I’d just like to end by saying thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome, and I look forward to being involved in many more activities with the children and young people.”
We’d like to say a big thank you to Hilary and the other volunteers who give so much time, energy and skills in all aspects of our work.
To find out more about Children’s Hospice Week visit their website here.