‘Volunteering is really enjoyable and it’s good to see the difference it can make too’
by Rob Knipe Student volunteer This week is Student Volunteering Week, a nationwide celebration of student volunteering. We’ll be celebrating the efforts of Marie Curie student volunteers every day this week by asking some of them to tell us what it’s like to volunteer while studying.
When not studying for his Masters degree in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University, or working in his full-time job, Rob Knipe spends time as a Marie Curie Helper Volunteer in Liverpool. What is your volunteering role?
As a Helper Volunteer I offer one-to-one companionship and emotional support to people with a terminal illness. Helper Volunteers offer a sympathetic ear to the people we support and help with activities that allow families to have a break from their caring role. Sessions with the last person I helped varied greatly. The majority of our time together was mainly in his home, where we’d sit and chat about pretty much anything. It was great. He really appreciated the company and we used to laugh all the time. In one session we managed to make it outside and we went for food at Liverpool Cathedral, which was really nice. The person I was supporting loved the building and the food and we had a really good day out. Why did you choose to volunteer while studying? I was in the Territorial Army for fifteen years and when I left at the start of 2013 I suddenly had a lot of free time. I realised I could actually try to progress my real life rather than just my military one. I decided to volunteer for Marie Curie to try and make a difference to the quality of people’s lives and to see how I’d fare in an environment like that. I chose Marie Curie because many years ago a friend of mine lost their uncle to cancer and he was with Marie Curie for a brief stay. My friend really rated Marie Curie so it was an obvious choice when I decided to volunteer. How do you find volunteering while studying? Volunteering while studying can be hard work, and it can be difficult to juggle my responsibilities. I take flexi-time for my full-time job so I can volunteer during the day. Although it can be hard to fit everything in, I find I gain a lot from volunteering. It is really enjoyable and it’s good to see the difference it can make too. What is your favourite part of volunteering? I love talking to new people and finding out about them. Everyone has a story to tell and, no matter who they are, there’s so much you can learn from them. Has volunteering had any impact on you personally? As well as knowing that I’m making a difference to someone’s life, I think it’s changed my perspective slightly and made me aware of aspects of life that we take for granted. What are your plans for the future after you graduate? After I graduate from my Masters in Creative Writing, I intend to study a BSc Adult Nursing programme. Since volunteering as a Helper Volunteer, I hope to work in palliative care, perhaps even with Marie Curie itself! Seeing the good that is done within the Marie Curie Hospice, Liverpool has really made me determined to become part of it. To find a volunteering role that suits you, search though our current opportunities and apply online at mariecurie.org.uk/volunteering.