Hooked on the hospice

Paul Seymour is an extremely busy man and testimony to the phrase: ‘if you want something done: ask a busy person.’

When St Elizabeth Hospice was looking for suitable volunteers to take on the role of ambassadors, they found Paul.

Having spent four and a half years volunteering with the hospice, Paul has experienced a number of roles. He began by volunteering as a receptionist and then started to help in day care as well. He now has two additional roles: volunteer drivers’ coordinator and St Elizabeth Hospice Ambassador.
Paul’s commitments do not stop there as he works with three other voluntary organisations, one of which is connected with his RAF career. But, by his own admission, it seems that Paul is ‘hooked on the hospice.’

“Most people know little bits about what the hospice does, but there is still a lot to do to get our message out to the community about everything we offer.”

Why the hospice?
Paul retired from a career in the RAF four years ago and within six months of his returning from Sierra Leone, Paul’s mother became ill. He was not anticipating her illness but was staggered by what the hospice did for her. Within 24 hours of contacting OneCall, his mother was visited by staff, and the caring began. She spent six weeks in the Inpatient Unit whilst the hospice team worked hard to enable her to go home, which was her wish.

Paul said: “All of the organisation was completed and the arrangements were put in place. Beds were moved, visits scheduled, medication agreed; the team was quite clearly working to accommodate the individual.”

“It’s about quality of life.”

During the following months, Paul spent a lot of his time at St Elizabeth Hospice and began to feel as if he would like to work there himself. He acted upon this feeling and began his volunteering experience.

After several years of commitment to the hospice, he was asked whether he would be prepared to talk about his experiences in order to help inform people about what St Elizabeth Hospice really does for the people of East Suffolk. Paul feels passionately about what is provided by the team, that he readily agreed:

“It is not just about end of life care but more about quality of life; providing longer term care for those with progressive illnesses.”

Being an ambassador

The ambassador programme is now at the forefront of communicating this message and engaging with the community. Paul is used to addressing large and small audiences alike, so is a perfect fit for this part of the role which requires him to deliver presentations to the variety of organisations who are interested in finding out more. The presentation includes the story of St Elizabeth Hospice and shows the variety of work done by our wide range of staff and volunteers.

Paul commented: “There is always 100% positive response from people I talk to, but most people say they had no idea about the amount Elizabeth Hospice does.”

He has recently spoken on BBC Radio Suffolk with Rebecca Barwick, the volunteer development officer on this subject; he has a range of local groups set up to speak to- both new and known; one-off programmes for groups providing direct benefits to patients. Paul finds it interesting to use his contacts to find projects of mutual benefit.

Paul readily admits that he is 10 times busier now than when he was working, but he said: “I can do a lot from home. I volunteer here once and sometimes, twice a week, and want to keep going. My ambassador role is easy to do, as and when required. If I can’t manage an event, then someone else can. I can do as much or as little as I want.

“St Elizabeth Hospice is a dynamic organisation which is always adapting to the needs of its patients. They manage change here really well, change which is only ever driven by patient requirement.”

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