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VOLUNTEERS WEEK: Being a Volunteer Bereavement Counsellor

It’s a vital part of our service that people don’t often think of.

This week is National Volunteers Week, and Weldmar Hospicecare relies heavily on an army of volunteers doing a wide variety of roles.  Without them, we simply couldn’t provide the care and support we do in Dorset.

Every day this week we’re featuring a different area of Weldmar where we have volunteers providing a valuable service.

Meet our team of Volunteer Bereavement Counsellors.

They provide bereavement and emotional care and support to patients and their families.

Sarah Brown (left) and Shirley Churchill (fourth from left) told us a little more about the roles they play.

The support will usually take place over a number of sessions in the home of the patient or family member – an introductory meeting where everything is explained, and then an average of six sessions, although this can be open to negotiation depending on the individual situation, how well the person is able to cope, and any other issues they might be dealing with.

“It’s very well received,” says Shirley, “I help do the coffee mornings and days out etc, and I’ve done one to one support on the phone, which works in the same way as face to face meetings”.

(Weldmar’s Bereavement Service on a recent visit to Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens)

Shirley says she started volunteering following the death of her husband, Robert, seven years ago to cancer.  He was cared for at home, and came into Weldmar’s Day Service once a week in order to give Shirley a break at home.  “They were so brilliant, and also my daughter lost her father-in-law just twelve weeks after my husband died, so I felt I wanted to give something back because it’s such a brilliant service, with all the family including the grandchildren.  We’re very lucky to have it.”

Sarah’s husband died almost twenty years ago, just two months after his diagnosis.  “He never came home, and that was his biggest distress and my biggest distress, that he couldn’t die at home.  Here, we care for people in the community and make provision so that they are able to die at home if that’s possible.  For me, it’s not just about giving something back, it’s also about getting even half a smile to somebody’s face.  It’s very rewarding.”

Shirley says anyone thinking about taking up a volunteer role should go for it.  “You get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing you’re helping someone else, over a very bad period of their life.  I’ve had comments from people who say they couldn’t have managed without our help.  It’s been such a great help to have someone to talk to and just take the edge off what they are going through”.

Sarah adds, “A lot of people still don’t realise that they can refer themselves to the service if they don’t want to go down the GP route – they had no idea they could have this kind of support from their local hospice.  What we do is well received because we don’t wear white coats, we approach people from a different angle, and going into their homes it’s like you are being a friend.”

We thank all our amazing volunteers for the work they do!  Discover more about volunteering opportunities with Weldmar Hospicecare here.



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