Having been in post as the hospice writer since March this year, I thought it was about time that I began to capture some of my day-to-day impressions of this unique place in a blog. So, here goes…
I first became properly aware of the existence of St Elizabeth Hospice back in September 2014 when, having decided to move away from teaching English as I had done for 24 years in Suffolk secondary schools, I found myself without anything to do.
I had planned to just see where my future took me, in so far as you can plan for such a thing, but what I hadn’t anticipated was how quickly I would feel ‘out of the loop’ and would need to be part of the working world again.
Two weeks was all it took.
Whilst idly flipping through the pages of our local Community News magazine, I came across an article on Paul, a volunteer driver for the hospice and a call for more volunteers. Why not? I thought, maybe there’s a role for me…
Next thing I knew, I was volunteering in day services. This is where patients come for a day each week or fortnight and meet other patients, whilst having a medical catch-up; lunch and making use of the gym; bathing facilities; therapies; hairdressing, amongst other activities.
Having shared my enthusiasm for writing during my interview, it wasn’t long before I found myself working with patients on writing their life stories.
I’ll never forget the charming and avuncular, Tony, with whom I spent many a pleasant morning listening to his stories of his chaotic working life in catering. His job took him far and wide; he was certainly up for everything and anything.
I could learn from him.
He was a man without family and for whom, words had little currency. Listening to him reminisce and seeing the positive effects of this, had a profound impact on me. I was determined to write his story, in his words, as he had told it.
He was so happy to receive several copies of his story, when finished, which he shared with the three friends who featured in its pages. He even got dressed up to read it to his ‘Tuesday friends’ in day services, to a warm response which clearly gave him great pleasure and a sense of legacy.
From then on, I was hooked.
Two years on after working in a variety of hospice jobs, I am now proud to be the St Elizabeth Hospice writer. Watch this space to learn exactly what this means and why I have the best job in the world. I really must contact Chris Evans for a shout out on ‘Great job Wednesday’…
If you would like to become a volunteer for the hospice find out more here.