Volunteer Stories - Meet William...
Friday 08th February 2019
For the last ten years, William Dougan has been a dedicated volunteer at St. Vincent’s Hospice, providing a reliable, kind and friendly face to patients, visitors and staff when they come to us by greeting them at Reception.
Above and beyond this, William is also a member of our Hospice Community Voices Team, helping shape our services and the future of our Hospice for years to come.
In this interview, he shares some of his experiences and thoughts around his decade of volunteer work.
Why did you volunteer with St. Vincent’s Hospice?
Around ten years ago I received early retirement on health grounds, which was at the same time my mother started to need full time support and I had to step in.
I knew of St. Vincent’s Hospice through the church, and I was really looking for something to do to get me out of the house, something to give me a bit more of a social life.
I came in for an interview and said I was available to volunteer at night as well as during the day, and they all just kind of looked at each other. I thought “oh dear, that’s me. I’ve blown it. Guess I’ll need to look for something else.” It was the exactly opposite, they were delighted! They couldn’t believe someone was coming in and telling them they wanted to work in the evening, so it was perfect.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
Well like I said, my mother was in her early 80s when I first started at the Hospice, so it was just to give me something different and meet new people. On Friday nights it was mainly just dealing with families coming in, which was really quite relaxed. When I started volunteering during the day, it started to become a bit busier and more involved, with more visitors, staff, families, friends all coming and going.
Sometimes it can be quite hard, especially if someone passes away and the family has been advised to come in by phone and you’re the first person their family and loved ones see when they come in.
Obviously that’s hard. But at the same time, you really do build up some amazing relationships, not just with staff and visitors, but our patients. In fact, some of the best jokes I have ever heard, and the best laughs I can remember, have been with our patients.
What would you say to anyone considering getting involved?
If I could leave people with any message, it is that Hospice is not hospital. Humour and humanity can be seen and heard every day. People will often hear the word “Hospice” and they naturally think of a place of gloom, but in my experience, it is often a place of laughter.
Please, consider becoming a volunteer.