Eileen Black from Antrim volunteers at Laurel House, Antrim Area Hospital.
1. What does your volunteering involve?
I volunteer one morning per week at Laurel House at Antrim Area Hospital which is an Out Patients’ Unit where people undergo cancer treatment. My role as a volunteer involves supporting the patients at the Haematology clinic . When I say supporting basically I mean I chat to them! In a waiting room full of people I just have a look around and if someone is alone I will go and sit with them. It may be that they are worried or apprehensive and I sit and they talk and I listen. Maybe they are worried about being out of work and I direct them to the appropriate person regarding benefits advice. Sometimes it’s a person who has access difficulties so I will get them a cup of tea.
2. When did you first begin volunteering?
I started volunteering in early 2013.
3. What inspired you to get involved?
October 2011 was my first encounter with the Macmillan Unit at Antrim Hospital to visit a patient who was a friend of mine. To experience such dedication from the staff there and such peaceful surroundings for the patients and their families I just felt that I had to give some time to support people living with cancer.
I enquired how to become a volunteer and after completing the registration process I attended training offered to volunteers which helped to gain an insight into cancer and its various treatments. I was allocated a role in Laurel House, just next door to the Macmillan Unit where I had been visiting my friend.
4. What attracted you to the role?
When I retired from the Civil Service in 2010 after 20 years sitting behind a desk I promised myself never to work in an office again! I really like to spend time with people and I could see that there was a real need to keep people company and support them when they are waiting for treatment so this role appealed to me.
5. What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role?
It helps to be a chatty and friendly person and you also need to be a good listener and someone who is kind and caring.
6. Why do you volunteer?
I really enjoy chatting to people and I wanted to support people living with cancer so this seemed like an ideal role for me.
7. How often do you volunteer?
I volunteer on a weekly basis, each Thursday morning.
8. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Being a people person I really enjoy meeting the patients and their families and getting to know them as they come back over the weeks for their treatments. I am always amazed at their positivity! They are very inspiring.
9. Why would you encourage others to get involved?
Getting to meet so many people each week is great, and it’s lovely to think that I might be helpful if only in a small way during their time in Laurel House.
10. What has been the highlight of your volunteering?
The people who I have had the opportunity to get to know – that has been the highlight without a doubt!
11. What advice would you give someone starting to volunteer?
If you have some free time and like me enjoy spending time with people then just do as I did and make that call!