Column: Hospital work has helped me understand others

Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield
Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield

I am 19 years old and have been volunteering since I was 16.

I’ve been volunteering at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital once a week for the last 11 months.

I spend three hours primarily talking to patients on the neurological wards.

Being alone in a hospital bed can lead to a sense of despair especially when confronted with the less pleasant features of being mortal e.g. a brain tumour.

At the start I wondered how I could ever actually be of any help to such people.

I couldn’t heal them - in many cases even a doctor couldn’t do that - but surprisingly I found I could help.

Patients often just want someone to chat to, to have someone listen to their concerns or talk about their pets or family and that’s what is so surprising: how easy it is to help someone feel better.

It feels nice knowing that I use some of my time to help others and I’d completely encourage others to take up volunteering, there’s nothing better than knowing despite whatever flaws you have that you are doing something good in the world.

I’ve never had to have a serious operation so as someone who wants to work in the health service I’ve found patient insight invaluable.

No two people have the same priorities and volunteering has let me see that more clearly and made me see the need to tailor the approach to the individual.

I have previously volunteered in a residential care home for a year and that with the hospital volunteering has really helped me grow as a person to understand people from different walks of life and at different stages of their lives.

It has developed my ability to empathise.

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