Suraj has been a volunteer at Michael Sobell House since his mother was supported by our team three years ago. After working across our Fundraising and Inpatient Unit Teams in various volunteering capacities, Suraj shared his experience with us. Read his story below.
“My mum had been staying at the Inpatient Unit, about three years ago now, and I saw the work they were doing for our family and knew that being a part of that was something I wanted to do. The first thing I did was volunteering in the Fundraising department. I supported the team with finding contacts for fundraising, inputting data about people who were regular donors and fundraisers, as well as doing inventory management at the Warehouse.
I changed from the Fundraising Team to volunteering in the Inpatient Unit because I wanted to work with the doctors who had helped us a lot when my mum was staying there. I wanted to give back and so I started volunteering on the Saturday shift. Usually, I would be serving lunches to patients and clearing away their dishes, cleaning the sink area after lunch, washing the dishes and any jobs that needed to be done really. Working in both the Fundraising and Inpatient Unit Teams was really good for getting a deeper insight into the entire charity because I saw how the two sides of the Hospice work together.
When my mum was staying in the House, I didn’t know much about hospice care. If you’re visiting, you see the surface level of how it works but everything is, of course, very focused on your own family and situation. But when you are part of the team you naturally learn more. Since you are seeing all the doctors and nurses interacting equally with every single person, it made me appreciate even more, all the work that goes into it. Seeing both sides really broadened my perspective on everything and reinforced that understanding of how important the IPU is for people.
I have just started studying Medicine at University and my volunteer work at Michael Sobell House has given me much more insight into medical communication. When I was with the doctors and nurses, I came to understand how palliative care specifically, is often just about treating people’s needs and making people as comfortable as possible. There is always a focus on modulating communication, depending on the patient. If they are more responsive or less, there are different ways you can communicate with them. For example, speaking to their family and getting their family to try and help them communicate more because when it’s a familiar face they’re more likely to respond to and be comfortable doing so. I think that is a really valuable thing I have learnt through working with the team.
It was a really rewarding experience. If you have the time and are able to do some volunteering, I would definitely say everyone should take up the opportunity. I know I have definitely benefitted from it. Especially if you have a personal connection to it, it just feels good to give back and be a part of it.”