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“Hearing people cheer my name really did give me a boost!”

19 August 2019

Meet Patrick, who was part of our Support at Home team here at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. Support at Home sees trained volunteers visit people in their own homes to offer friendly companionship, provide a listening ear, and assist in finding additional services which could provide support. Patrick became a much-loved face to the people who use this service, as it is he who first visited patients to assess their needs and pair them with a like-minded volunteer.

Whilst Patrick has moved on from the Hospice for pastures new, he decided to go out with a bang by taking on the Great Birmingham 10k! We caught up with him on his last day to find out more about his role and why he decided to take on an exciting running challenge to raise funds for the Hospice…  

The best part of my job is when you see a person’s face light up because of the support you’ve provided to them. It’s a real privilege to be able to do that and it’s incredibly fulfilling to know that the care we provide is having such a positive impact on others.

As a Support at Home worker at the Hospice, I work closely with our wonderful team of volunteers to help organise visits to patients, answer any questions or queries they might have, and make sure that vital training is up-to-date. Support at Home is a really special service as it’s completely volunteer-led – we have 27 trained volunteers who give up their time for free to support people in their own homes.

I think it’s quite a unique service as it’s helping to combat social isolation in our communities. Being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness can be quite isolating for some people – especially as some conditions can limit a person’s mobility or can cause difficulties with breathing, which is likely to make them more house-bound. With Support at Home, we’re trying to tackle this by providing a befriending service, so our volunteers are a regular, friendly face to the people they visit.

What I love most about my job is being able to visit people in their own homes to get an initial sense of how we can support them. Once I’ve done that assessment, I then partner the patients with one of our fantastic volunteers. I always feel so humbled to work with our volunteer team – they are genuinely a brilliant group of people. They could be spending their time sat at home watching telly but instead, they choose to spend a few hours each week helping others.

Having seen a family member receive end of life care, I know that at times it can feel like there’s a revolving door of medical professionals entering and leaving your home. That’s why I think the biggest benefit of Support at Home is that it gives patients a chance to befriend somebody outside of that field. One of the first things I tell patients is that I’m not going to talk about their illness unless they want to. Constantly discussing your pain can be extremely tiring, so our volunteers create a space where patients are free to talk about whatever they want.

Of course, the main focus of the volunteer’s role is to act as a listening ear to the patient. But what many people don’t realise is how valuable this service is to carers too. So many carers tend to be family members or loved ones of the patient and taking on this role can be a 24/7 job. So when our volunteers sit with the patient for a couple of hours, it gives carers a chance to have a little bit of time to themselves – whether that’s getting the weekly shop done, going to the gym, or catching up with friends. They are always so grateful to have that time.

Seeing first-hand the difference that the Hospice makes to others – and knowing that it relies heavily on voluntary donations to keep its services running – I decided to use my hobby of running as a way of raising money for the charity. That’s why I took on the Great Birmingham 10k in May.

I’ve always loved running but being able to do my hobby for good is a great feeling. The Great Birmingham 10k is absolutely fantastic – the atmosphere on the day is just incredible and it’s wonderful to be able to explore our city in a different way.

As a middle-aged bald man, I don’t quite get the same cheers as a lot of the other racers who dress up in costumes. But this year, when I reached the 8k mark, I saw Hettie the Hedgehog – the Hospice’s mascot – waving at me with and a whole group of Hospice volunteers cheering me on. Hearing my own name called out really did give me a boost to reach the end. And the feeling of reaching the finish line is just brilliant – it feels like a real achievement for both you and the Hospice.

The support from the Birmingham St Mary’s team before the race, on the day, and afterwards was really great. They set up my online fundraising page and gave lots of advice on how best to shout about the race and raise money. They even offered training tips which I found useful since I can get stuck in a rut with my training routine. The way they follow up with you after the event really shows that they care, and it makes you feel appreciated.

Although I’m sad to be leaving the Hospice, I feel really proud of the work I’ve done here – both supporting patients and raising funds. I would recommend anyone to take on a fundraising challenge for the Hospice, especially as the money you raise will go a long way in supporting local people to live well with illness.

Thank you Patrick for taking on the Great Birmingham 10k for the Hospice! If you’d like to find out more about Support at Home, please take a read here. Or, if like Patrick, you fancy getting your running shoes on to raise vital funds for our services, see what exciting events we have here.