Thanks to Pilgrims Hospices wonderful volunteer counsellors, patients, carers and families have been able to continue accessing vital counselling support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here, they share what it’s been like and why this service is so important.
Jill is from Whitstable and began volunteering at Pilgrims Hospices after 12 years working in a private counselling practice, with particular interests in bereavement and supporting teenagers.
“I started volunteering as a counsellor at Pilgrims Hospices during the pandemic. Even though I’ve been working remotely, it’s been a privilege to be able to help patients, carers and the bereaved. Of course, it’s tricky not seeing people face-to-face – reading body language is such an important part of counselling – but any contact with those in need is vital, especially in the times we’re living through. It’s so important to just be there and offer support.
“I enjoy knowing that I can make a difference; if I can help someone even one tiny bit, I’ve done my job. When someone knows they are dying or is caring for someone at the end of life, they just want to feel heard. Often, they don’t want to worry their families with their own anxieties and fear, so this is where counsellors can step in and play a crucial role.
“Pilgrims is such a wonderful place. I’m really looking forward to being able to counsel people face-to-face in the near future. I’ve also only met my colleagues virtually via Zoom, so it will be lovely to finally catch up in person and feel even more a part of the hospice team.”
Maureen is from Ashford and qualified as a counsellor in 2014; she joined Pilgrims as a volunteer counsellor in 2018 after many years working in the voluntary sector. She also runs her own private counselling practice.
At three months old, Maureen contracted polio, which paralysed both her arms and also affects her legs; she uses a powered wheelchair and drives a specially adapted van. Overcoming her own adversity helps her relate to others’ emotions with a clear understanding, and she enjoys being able to help people in this way.
“Counselling people brings me a sense of purpose, and throughout the pandemic it helped me deal with my feelings regarding my own place within the locked down world.
“Working with clients at this time gave me focus. Listening to others dealing with their own significant difficulties, sharing their worries, and gradually forming a therapeutic relationship with them, I found to be a great help to me.”
Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?
Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!
Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.
We’re accredited by REVAMP, a quality mark for Volunteer Involving Organisations developed by Stronger Kent Communities, a leading provider of support for the voluntary sector in Kent.