Gerard started volunteering in the Blythe House kitchen in 2014, before becoming a befriender in our Living Well service where he is able to provide practical and emotional support to patients, as well as have a jolly good chuckle with them too!
Gerard says: ‘When I started volunteering in the kitchen here, my wife thought it was absolutely hilarious! I have always helped with the housework at home, with cleaning and dusting, but I’ve never cooked!
‘After around three and a half years in the kitchen, I became a befriender which sees me welcoming patients to the Living Well service and helping them to settle in and feel comfortable. I help to provide practical and emotional support to patients, as well as serve refreshments, and just generally help to facilitate the smooth running of the service.
‘I have always believed in giving something back, especially to people who are going through difficult times; they need support and a place to share their concerns. Most of all they need to be listened to; very often people hear what you say but they don’t actually listen, so it’s very important to do so.
‘Around two years ago, I directed a staff and volunteer Christmas pantomime for patients. After being involved in the arts and drama for much of my life, it was great to feel that we were putting on such a fun and enjoyable show for them to enjoy. Wow, we had fun – it was hilarious! The following year, I read an abbreviated version of the Christmas Carol tale; complete with smoking jacket and glass of sherry!
‘I am now shadowing members of the spiritual care volunteer team, to learn more about its role in the organisation and how it supports patients. Spiritual care is not about religion or imposing your own beliefs, it’s about being there and above all, as I’ve said before: listening.
‘The whole volunteer team here at Blythe House are advocates of the organisation. It is a very happy to place to be and we have lots of fun. Volunteers are just ordinary people that care and want to help; to make a difference and to be a part of a team that is doing just that, is very fulfilling. I have made many wonderful friends here in the patients, staff and fellow volunteers; they are genuine friendships that mean something to me.’