I enjoy being involved with St Ann’s Hospice as its Chair of the Board of Trustees for many of the same reasons others choose to volunteer their time – I enjoy seeing the impact the work we do has on local patients and their lives, I feel satisfaction at being able to work as part of such an amazing team, and what people say about the way ‘giving something back’ makes you feel is definitely true.
But, since joining St Ann’s, I’ve also found that one of the most incredible things is that I’m privileged to hear the stories of local people, their lives, and their experience of hospice care. It’s so heartwarming to hear people talk about the world-class care they’ve received and use phrases like ‘blanket of love’, or ‘life-changing support’.
To hear words like life-changing when referring to hospices may feel strange to some people, especially those who haven’t come into contact with hospice care before. To many, hospices conjure up visions of a place where people go at the very end of their life – sad places.
But the truth is, the modern hospice movement couldn’t be further from that vision of sadness. Of course, we do support people through very sad times. We care for people at what, for many, is one of the most vulnerable times of their life, and we try to make their final days as comfortable as possible whilst also being there for their loved ones.
But, in addition to that vital end of life care, hospices like St Ann’s also provide care to patients right from the point of their diagnosis, through treatment, and beyond. We’re there for them if they need psychological support, or if they require help managing symptoms during their treatment. We are out in their local community. We can provide complementary therapies to help them to relax. We can help them with practical issues that come with long-term illnesses. We provide them access to doctors or specialist nurses, or to day care activities such as art therapy – and everything in between.
We have an army of staff and more than 700 volunteers who make all of that possible, and each and every one is a cog that makes a huge difference in that wheel of care. They come from right across Greater Manchester and I’d like to thank each and every one of them on behalf of our patients and their families. I’ve heard first-hand the difference that support makes to the quality of people’s lives, and I couldn’t be prouder to volunteer with such an amazing charity.