When Jilian first started her internship at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, she wasn’t too sure what to expect from a “sad place”. However, just a few days into her corporate partnership fundraising role, she soon realised that a hospice is a place full of warmth and laughter that “listens to people to help them live well with life-limiting illness”. Read her story below to discover why she wanted a fulfilling intern role, what her favourite hospice memories were, and what a charity corporate partnership is really about. 

During my penultimate year at university, I decided that I would dedicate my summer to a cause that really resonated with me. So when an internship came up at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, I knew it was the role for me.

One of the modules that I was studying touched upon the importance of death and dying. It stressed the significance of the dying process, especially in regards to coming to terms with death. Before taking this class, I never really thought about the importance of maintaining quality of life until the very end. By the end of this class though, whilst I still find the idea of death frightening, the thought of dying with grace and dignity brought solace.

That’s how I came to understand the importance of services offered by charities like Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, that strive to provide people-centred care to patients, their family members, carers and loved ones. So when I came across a post advertising a summer internship within their corporate partnership fundraising team, everything just fell into place. I knew I wanted to take on the role and would feel proud to dedicate my time to help make hospice care accessible for all. 

Before I started my internship, my idea of a ‘hospice environment’ was clouded with various misconceptions around the word ‘hospice’. Every time I’d break the news to a friend, I’d receive comments about how brave I was to be in such a ‘sad’ environment. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that all those misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

I soon learned that a hospice is a philosophy of care, in which we listen to people to help them live well with life-limiting illness. Birmingham St Mary’s has successfully implemented this philosophy, which is reflected in the kindness and warmth that staff and volunteers have for patients, their loved ones, and each other.

Since starting in July, one of my most humbling experiences of working here was when I shadowed the nurses on our Inpatient Unit for a day. Being able to see the various reasons why our patients need specialist palliative care made me appreciate the preciousness of life in all its fragility. It was comforting to see the time and effort that the nurses dedicated to tailoring their care to each and every person. Naturally, many patients do not like being away from home. So, from learning how different people like their tea and coffee to finding alternative ways of relieving pain, the nurses and staff employed every trick up their sleeve to recreate the relaxing home environment for those who required care on the ward.  

Away from the ward and in the fundraising offices, a less hands-on approach is required to support the changing future of end-of-life care. In the corporate partnership team where I worked, Pam and Charlotte, my colleagues, gave me an insight into what happens ‘behind the scenes’ at a hospice. We work with different companies and their employees to help raise vital funds for the charity. I've learned that a lot of work and time has to be spent finding a company that shares similar values to the Hospice. However, when we do find the right company that is keen to give back to its local community, dynamic and mutually beneficial relationships can come to life.

I am so grateful to have had Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice as my first-ever educator and example of what a high-quality end-of-life care can look like. I really look forward to supporting the charity in future and I hope many more people will too.

Thank you Jilian for sharing your story with us. If you would like to find out more about our charity corporate partnerships, take a read here. Or, if like Jilian, you would like to do an internship at the Hospice, take a look at our current vacancies.