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Compassionate Neighbours – the impact of our support

Our Compassionate Neighbours service provides social and emotional support to local community members with life-limiting conditions or experiencing bereavement in South West Hertfordshire. Volunteers, fully trained by Peace Hospice Care, are matched with a member of the community based on interests and location, providing support through regular visits, friendship, listening; and supporting the service user to do things they like, helping them to stay connected to the community, family and friends.

Roy is supported by the service, and has been matched with Volunteer, John.

Roy has led a very full life, spending years in the RAF based in many countries across the world, becoming a minister, working in local Government, gaining experience in counselling and social work and re-entering education amongst a vast range of other experiences. After retirement and experiencing ill-health, Roy was referred to our Compassionate Neighbours team. He said:

 I was referred to the service by my heart failure nurse and it’s been an anchor to hold onto. They were phone calls at first but have now become in-person visits. John is very good calling me and I can call him. It’s quite an experience because John has a lot of interests we can talk about and we both have a love of gardening and had a visit together to a garden centre.

I’m very well supported and I enjoy John’s company.  Having access to John via Peace Hospice Care gives me the feeling that someone cares for me and wants to help me. I’ve done 30 years of helping other people as a social worker and a minister and now I need a bit of help every now and then. Without John I would be lonely – no question about it.”

Without John I would be lonely – no question about it.

John has been involved with the Hospice for three years, and as well as volunteering with the Compassionate Neighbours team, he also supports in our Inpatient Unit. He said:

“As part of my role in the unit I help prepare the trays, taking the individually prepared meals to the patients. We also make the patients drinks to go with the meal and also ask any visiting friends and relatives if they would like a drink. At the end of a shift we leave a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher.

My second role with the Hospice is as a Compassionate Neighbour. This involves keeping in contact with a person who is unwell and lives at home. I phone Roy on a regular basis, and have started visits. I first became involved with the Hospice at a time in my life where I felt lost. I had just moved to the area – I had no work, no routine, did not know anyone, in an unfamiliar area. The answer was to do some voluntary work. Choosing to be a volunteer at the Hospice was a wise decision. I had an induction, trained, made friends and saw life from another perspective. All my needs were fulfilled.

What I thoroughly enjoy about volunteering is being with the patients at their home or in the Hospice. To talk to them to listen to them and admire them. They have come to terms with coming close to their life end and seem at peace with themselves, family and friends. What was once so important is now insignificant.

To volunteer at Peace Hospice Care is an experience and lesson in life that no money could buy. Something so very special. I have learnt in depth the meaning of “respect and dignity.” A patient is given respect. Because patients have respect they live the way they want to live and this gives them dignity. To share in these emotions and feelings is so rewarding. Time spent with patients and in the Hospice is precious time.”

To volunteer at Peace Hospice Care is an experience and in life that no money could buy.