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Why I volunteer: “To give my life structure after retiring”

Author: Joyce Taylor
24 April 2017

Joyce Taylor gets involved in pretty much every aspect of Bolton Hospice, from serving food to patients to liaising with the public on the reception desk. Here she tells us what made her decide to start volunteering after retiring, and the positive impact it has had on her life.

I left school at 15 to do an apprenticeship and was a hairdresser for 20 years. I have always got involved with volunteering and while I was living in Brighton I was part of a social group for people with mental health problems. I also worked on the stroke unit at the hospital in the evening helping out with entertainment. I drove the ambulance within the grounds of the hospital which transported people across the sites.

I was very bored with hairdressing and wanted to do something social as a job. I got into social services working with adults with a learning disability, and I did 22 years as part of a team supporting adults to live independently in the community.

I was very lucky because at the time I got in with references from the person in charge of the volunteering at the hospital.

I have been volunteering at Bolton Hospice for just over five years. I started on the ward and from there I signed up to the day unit and reception. Now I do one session a week at the day unit, one session at the fundraising reception, and I also do the gift shop once a week.

I do the early morning shift on the ward which is 8.30am-11.30am, so it is breakfast for the patients when they want it, chatting to them, cleaning the trolleys, providing fresh water and attending to visitors if they’d like tea or coffee. In the fundraising department there’s always something to help with, and you’re meeting members of the public are coming in to make donations.

I like the day unit because there is a lot of interaction with patients. There is craftwork, chatting, helping with lunch and making teas and coffees. Every week is different.

The highlights for me are interacting with the patients and the public. I get to meet lots of different people, on the ward, in the shop and on reception.

The patients are really nice and they really appreciate the volunteers. On occasion we have had visitors who have come to the kitchen to say thank you very much.

A single best experience was when I volunteered on the Midnight Memories Walk last year which was good fun.  I have done the Midnight Walk three or four times. Two years ago I did the Colour Run and this year I think we’re going to do the Santa Hike the Pike. I am also a member of the Hospice Lottery.

Volunteering gets me out and gives my week more structure. I retired when I was 62, and we moved to Bolton from Brighton, so we didn’t really know anybody.  I had four years of doing all the things I wanted to do when I retired, and then I thought, now what? I have worked full time all my life, so I just suddenly thought I needed something to do.

Volunteering  gives me a focus. I found that I was waking up in the morning and I did not  know what day of the week it was. Whereas now, I’m like “oh it’s Monday, I’m on the ward, Tuesday I’m at the day unit.” I enjoy it,  I have much more of a structure.

I get more out of it, probably, than I put into it. Or certainly as much. More than anything I think it is got me out of being indoors all the time or just doing nothing. And I have got to know an awful lot of people that I wouldn’t have known before.

For more information visit Bolton Hospice

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