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Eileen's Volunteer Story
My name is Eileen Black, I’m married and have 3 grown up sons and 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. So, on retiring I joined a local walking club, I revamped my garden and my little Jack Russell Finn got walked and walked and…!
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.
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 every Thursday morning. 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.
Each Thursday brings a new challenge as people’s needs differ. If I can’t help, I have the support of the nursing staff and clerical staff in Laurel House and the Macmillan Support and Information Manager and Volunteer Coordinator – all of whom have made me very welcome and are always ready to help and advise me.
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 and hope I might be helpful if only in a small way during their time in Laurel House.
If you have some free time and are interested in becoming a volunteer within Cancer Services and like me enjoy spending time with people then just do as I did and make that call!