“I decided to become a Helper volunteer because caring for people is very important to me”

We’ve been delighted to be able to expand the Marie Curie Helper service   over the last year thanks to kind donations from our supporters. The service provides companionship, emotional support and practical help to people living with a terminal illness. This Volunteers’ Week we are celebrating our wonderful Helper volunteers who make the service what it is. by Irene MacLean Marie Curie Helper volunteer Irene MacLean, volunteer

I am a Helper volunteer and I visit a lady in a care home once or twice a week. She is a very bright lady with a tremendous character and we talk about anything and everything, including what we both did during the war. Sometimes I go with her to some of the care home activities such as book reading, discussion groups or church services.
I decided to become a Helper volunteer because caring for people is very important to me and my faith. I’m retired now but, looking back on my working life, all the jobs I had involved caring in some way – I’ve worked in pharmaceutical chemistry, the Royal Navy and as an infant teacher. After taking early retirement, I worked in a charity shop and provided chaplaincy support. When I saw a poster for the Marie Curie Helper service in the local supermarket it seemed a perfect match for me. One of the things I love about being a Helper volunteer is meeting other people and hearing their stories. I learn about courage and admire how people cope during difficult times. Being a Helper is also important because I want to feel useful and not become invisible in my older years. It is a satisfying experience and I also enjoy meeting other volunteers I think to be a good Helper volunteer you need to have the ability to really listen. I have experienced a lot in my life and I wanted to share those experiences but also let others share theirs. And listening is an important discipline for me. There are challenges, though, and I sometimes find it difficult not get upset when people tell me about difficult situations they’ve experienced. I feel very lucky to be a Helper volunteer. Everyone has hardships and worries and it keeps our own in perspectives. And everyone likes to feel part of something. The support I get as a volunteer is very rewarding and comforting and makes me really feel part of a community. Are you interested in volunteering? Find out more about the Marie Curie Helper Service  .