Ali Dronfield-Boyd became a Blythe House community volunteer in June 2019 after retiring early and proactively looking for volunteering opportunities to do ‘something valuable.’

Ali, who hails from Buxton, is currently providing support in the home of a local patient who has motor neurone disease. She explained: ‘I took early retirement in June 2018 and after 12 months of spending time at home I decided that I wanted to do something valuable for myself and to help others. I also wanted to help those people in real need; I lost my mum to cancer 10 years ago, we lived in Glossop at the time, and wished there was a similar service available to support her. I looked at the Blythe House website and decided to apply for the community volunteer programme.

‘I enrolled onto the training sessions for the programme, and it was much more valuable than I anticipated. It not only provided me with all the knowledge and tools to do the volunteer role, it was invaluable personally and very thought provoking. I constantly think about the content and I often refer back to the materials and ensure that I use the learning every time I provide support. The key aspects for me are to ensure confidentiality, to be respectful, and to work within appropriate boundaries.

‘Since completing the training, I have looked after one particular patient whose needs have changed constantly over the last six months. I support with a variety of things including improving accessibility to make life easier, for example, moving items in the kitchen to a lower level. I have helped with walking the dog; ironed clothes, as this has become a task the individual can no longer carry out; and undertaken some gardening tasks. The main thing during all this is the companionship; we chat and enjoy each other’s company.

‘I have also provided support on an ad-hoc basis; for example sitting and providing companionship whilst the wife of the patient had respite time and enjoyed some complimentary therapies. I have also provided help within the Living Well day-care services at the hospice building.

‘I know that the service the community volunteer programme provides is invaluable to the patients we support; it’s a great team and I am very proud to be part of it. It’s personally very rewarding and basically makes me feel good that I can help and make someone’s life a little easier at a time when they most need it.

‘Vicci and Julie are great ambassadors for Blythe House and are always there when I need anything. The programme is a massive support to people who need it and is extremely personally rewarding. It’s the best thing I have ever done with my time and I am hoping to offer more of my time in the forthcoming months. I would say that even the smallest amount of time that can be provided is very much appreciated.’