During my wife’s illness, I spent a lot of time getting to know different parts of Addenbrookes, from the Treatment Centre to Clinic 8, via many points in between. When the following year, I was thinking about volunteering generally, I realised that Addenbrookes would be a good place to look. I was particularly pleased that there were more roles than ward visiting, which I had assumed would be all there was, as I was already spending too much time visiting to my bed-bound Dad.
Guiding seemed a good role for me, as I already had a good understanding of the hospital – though there is always something surprising as they squeeze yet another bit in, it would provide a chance to interact with people and would get me on my feet, walking about, whilst giving me a chance to give back to a place that has done so much.
Guiding did what I expected.
You get to deal with a whole range of people – from new staff looking for bits of the hospital they have never been to before, through patients who have been to Addenbrookes before and just want to be pointed in the rough direction of a new clinic, to those who are panicking because this is their first time and they had no idea how big (or confusing) Addenbrookes can be.
You can tell that you are making a difference when you see the relief and thanks on people faces when all you did was find someone a wheelchair to take their partner to the clinic or offer to take someone to Discharge Lounge. Guides do not make the difference that the clinical and other support staff do, but we can make many peoples early interactions with the hospital just that little bit easier, and that is a key reason why I enjoy being one.
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