Gill Pilkington became a St Oswald’s volunteer just over a year ago, in October 2019, after she retired. Gill initially joined as a Outpatients Reception volunteer but due to COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions this role was put on hold so since then she has taken on three other roles!
Gill tells us more about her varied volunteering story:
“Having worked for many years in the corporate world I decided, upon retiring last year, it was time to experience another, totally different, aspect of life and share some of my acquired skills. Where better than St Oswald’s?! You are on my doorstep, and a local institution that I had admired from afar since I moved to Gosforth over 20 years ago.
“Volunteering on the Outpatients Reception was, as my first step, a daunting “career change” for me. Used to hiding behind a computer in an office I was suddenly on the busy frontline dealing with patient appointments and calls, visitors, deliveries, NEAS transfers and more, with everything (it seemed to me) happening at once. Guided by understanding and patient staff I soon got to grips with the systems and procedures and eagerly looked forward to my Wednesday afternoons.
“Sadly all that came to an end with the first Covid-19 lockdown in April but I was pleased then to join the ‘Check in and Chat’ team charged with calling the many volunteers who were unable to volunteer due to shop closures. This inspired initiative was an effective way of reaching out to those in the field who had little or no other contact with the Hospice during this difficult time. I tentatively made my first calls but was immediately reassured by the hugely positive responses of all those I spoke to. This was my first real connection with other volunteers and I felt proud to be part of such a special group of determined people.
“My current role is providing admin support for the team of busy Health Advocates working towards the Better Health at Work Award. Their creativity encouraging and supporting staff and volunteers to stay healthy in mind and body – and provide some fun along the way. On that note, I joined the Couch to Christmas Challenge, I’m becoming increasingly obsessed with the number of steps I do each day to help keep Team St Oswald’s high up the leaderboard of participating teams. Go St Oswald’s.
“To complete my St Oswald’s journey (at least for now), I have recently completed training to provide cover as a Bank Receptionist and I look forward to getting started there soon.
“I look back on my few months as a volunteer and the wonderful staff and volunteers I have met along the way and can only marvel at the amazing work that is done by so many. Their commitment, respect, understanding and “can do” attitude, particularly during these challenging times, is second to none. Yes, I became a volunteer to support a worthy local cause but thank you, St Oswald’s, for giving me that opportunity. I have learned a lot, enjoyed every worthwhile minute and feel privileged to be part of such a special family.”