Cathy volunteers in the main oncology clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, where she’s helped out for nine years. She became a volunteer after she was offered early retirement and wanted to help her community.
“I’ve been a volunteer at the Trust for nine years. My role is to welcome people to Clinic 8, the dedicated cancer clinic at Charing Cross Hospital. I offer people refreshments when they arrive at and to make them feel as comfortable as somebody coming to a cancer unit can be helped to feel. I aim to break down barriers and be there as a friendly face.”
“The best part of the role is the hugs I receive. It’s so lovely. Little notes from patients just saying thank you. It’s also just being able to see people looked a little bit relieved when you say, ‘Hello, who are you? Can I get you a cup of tea?’”
“It’s about breaking down those barriers, that feeling of ‘Oh God, is everything going to be all right?’”
Cathy believes that her role as a volunteer puts her in a unique position those coming in for treatment: “It’s very clear that it’s because you’re not a member of the clinical staff, you’re seen as one step closer related to the patient.”
Despite this, she says it’s important to be aware of her boundaries.
“People will ask you questions and it might be slightly clinical and you think, “Well I know the answer to that,” but actually it’s not your role to give them that information. I need to make it very clear to people that I am a volunteer, so I cannot or wouldn’t wish to give any sort of clinical information. But I will always find someone who can assist them if I can’t help.”
Cathy’s own passion and willingness to help led to her being nominated for a Make a Difference award, which she received earlier in the year. “I feel hugely humbled and very embarrassed,” she said.
Lynda Montgomery, the Clerical Officer who nominated her, said: “She’s an amazing individual. She always walks round with a smile and goes that extra mile. Although Cathy volunteers once a week, her caring presence brings warmth and brightens up our sometimes emotional and stressful oncology clinic. She’s a phenomenal lady with a heart of gold.”