31st May 2024

    Introducing Niomi: A dedicated Ward Support Volunteer

    Niomi is a cherished member of the Pilgrims Hospice Ashford community, where she serves as a Ward Support Volunteer.

    Her journey and experiences reflect her deep commitment to providing comfort and support to both patients and their families during some of life’s most challenging moments.

    Embracing the role with compassion and experience

    Niomi’s background is rich in caregiving and community involvement. After working as a professional nanny for ten years and raising her own children, she transitioned into teaching and later, community care. Her extensive experience, particularly with clients with dementia and those at the end of life, has equipped her with the skills and empathy needed to support hospice patients and their families effectively.

    Every situation is unique. It’s about working out what’s required for each individual.


    Inspired by Dr. Kathryn Mannix’s patient-led approach to end-of-life care, Niomi joined Pilgrims Hospices. With the End in Mind, a book by Mannix, profoundly influenced her perspective, reinforcing the importance of open, honest conversations about death and dying.

    Niomi with Dr. Kathryn Mannix


    A day in the life of a hospice volunteer

    At Pilgrims Hospices, Niomi’s days are filled with meaningful interactions. She visits patients and families, offering her presence and assistance, which often frees up time for nurses. Her role involves simple yet significant actions — listening, offering reassurance, and providing a comforting presence.

    Many people have never been to a hospice before and don’t know what dying looks like. Surprisingly, many are very open about their views on death and dying. It’s about making a difference to patients and families, putting them at ease when they are ready to come to the end of their journey.


    Niomi emphasises the importance of respecting boundaries and ensuring that patients are comfortable with her company: “Every situation is unique. It’s about working out what’s required for each individual,” she says.

    Supporting families and enhancing the hospice environment

    Recognising a need for more activities for visiting children, Niomi took the initiative to provide bookmarks, drawing paper, and other art materials. This effort, supported by Hospice Services Manager, Wendy Kelk, helps ease the pressure on parents and creates a more welcoming environment for young visitors.

    Niomi also highlights the supportive and positive atmosphere among the hospice staff: “I talk to the nurses, and they often tell me this is the happiest they’ve been in years. Annie Hogben, Expert Volunteer Project Lead, in particular, is a wonderful support to all of us. She makes you feel great, as if you are the only one in the room.”

    Balancing volunteering with professional life

    In addition to her volunteer work, Niomi runs her own Personal Assistant (PA) company, which allows her to manage her time effectively and keep her Wednesdays free for volunteering. Her PA role involves companionship, meal preparation, and assisting clients with organising their lives, focusing on those with dementia.

    Looking ahead with gratitude

    Reflecting on her role at Pilgrims Hospices, Niomi feels both lucky and blessed to be part of such an incredible team: “This environment understands how a person dies, enabling patients to remain dignified. It’s how everyone deserves to die, frankly. I’m very grateful to be, in a small way, part of this.”

    Niomi and her husband at Cycle Challenge 2024

    Her passion for the hospice and its mission shines through in every interaction, making a significant impact on the lives of those she serves. As Niomi continues her journey, she remains dedicated to supporting Pilgrims Hospices, hoping to inspire others to join her in this fulfilling and essential work.

    In addition to offering her time and energy as a dedicated ward support volunteer, Niomi, alongside her husband, also trained diligently to participate in the fundraising event Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge in May 2024. Demonstrating remarkable courage and commitment, she undertook the 30-mile ride across the beautiful Kent countryside during the 14th annual event, contributing not only through her volunteer work, but also by actively raising funds to support the hospice’s vital services.

    Join us at Pilgrims Hospices

    Niomi’s story is a testament to the profound impact of volunteering. If you feel inspired by her experiences and would like to learn more about how you can make a difference, please consider joining us at Pilgrims Hospices. Together, we can provide compassionate care and support to those who need it most.

    Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?

    Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!

    Volunteers’ Week celebrates the amazing contributions volunteers make to communities across the UK. The celebration starts on the first Monday in June every year. It’s a chance to recognise, celebrate and thank the UK’s incredible volunteers for all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector, and society as a whole.

    Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to thousands of people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured. The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.

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