Volunteers week: James' story - Nottinghamshire Hospice
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5th June 2019

Volunteers week: James' story


During Volunteers Week we are featuring some of our wonderful volunteers and celebrating their contribution to our work. Today we bring you James’ story:

Nursing a dying hen gave James Brown the inspiration to volunteer at Nottinghamshire Hospice. James, 26,  nursed Rose, one of his first batch of chickens, for four days while she deteriorated, which sparked an interest in how end of life care works for humans.

“Caring for the hen made me realise how important it is to be there at the end of life. I realised this is vital time and it kindled an interest and made me think, maybe I could do this with humans,” says James.“So I googled end of life care and found Nottinghamshire Hospice.”

James volunteered for two charities while at university studying psychology, so already felt the benefits of volunteering. “I knew giving up my time and not expecting anything in return was something I wanted to do,” he added.

James comes in to Day Therapy once a week, where he chats with patients when they first arrive, helps them eat, and joins in activities with them.

“I arrive before 10 am and make tea, toast or cold drinks for the patients when they arrive, then I sit with them and have a good old chin-wag which makes for a stimulating start to the day. After that I get involved in activities with the patients.

“It is great to see their persistence. I feed off that. I find it nourishing that despite their obvious difficulties they are determined not to be undermined by their difficulties.”

James with Day Therapy patient Phyllis

James with Day Therapy patient Phyllis

He says he draws inspiration from spending time with the patients and talking to them.

“I’m a Buddhist, and to develop and cultivate wisdom is vital to my practice. There’s a lot of wisdom to be found with engaging with patients here. It forces me to change my life for the better.”

After finishing university, James went travelling in Thailand and is now back in his home town of Nottingham and working in Sainsbury’s. But he hopes to find work in a caring role.

His advice to anyone thinking of volunteering is: “I’d say do it! If it’s within your heart to offer your all, whether that’s feeding a patient, helping them from A to B or just talking to them, it is making a clear difference to their lives. Patients appreciate the volunteers and all the volunteers I’ve met here say they get more out of it than they put in.”

James also likes being with some of the older patients because he never knew his own grandparents. “I’ve not grown up with grandparents so it feels like being in the role of grandson. When I think they could be my own grandparents this galvanizes my approach to being caring and giving my all.”

Volunteers are an essential, highly valued part of the hospice team. There are many volunteer roles available including fundraising, patient care and working in our shops.  Find out more about volunteering with Nottinghamshire Hospice here