Mary's story: Why I love being a befriender

"Everything I do as a befriender is based on the needs of the person I'm supporting."

Mary Schoen has been volunteering as a befriender at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice for two and a half years.

Mary from Stow on the Wold has been volunteering at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, just outside Cheltenham, for two and a half years.

The 61-year-old midwife was inspired to volunteer there in memory of a friend who received care from Leckhampton Court, home to the only inpatient hospice unit in the whole of the Gloucestershire.

"A friend had a great deal of help from Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court prior to her death," says Mary. "My friend’s courage against adversity prompted me to raise money for charity by participating in five charity treks raising £25,000 for Breast Cancer Care.

"When I was no longer physically able to carry on with these challenges, I decided to try to help in other ways so I signed up to become a befriender at the hospice who helped care for my friend. It's a volunteer role I can fit in around my job as a midwife.”

A diverse and rewarding role

As a volunteer befriender, Mary visits patients receiving care from the hospice to offer them additional support, often in their own home or in and around their own local community.

“Usually we chat and have a cup of coffee or sometimes we might pop out for a coffee. We might do small tasks around the house or pop to the shops or wherever they would like to visit.

"Everything I do is based on the needs of the people we are supporting and what they would like to do," Mary stresses.

It’s a role she really enjoys: “It is interesting as it is so diverse. I have supported two people since I started volunteering at the hospice and both experiences have been different.

"I really enjoy meeting up with the other befriending volunteers at our regular team meetings too. We share our experiences and support each other," she explains.

Mary is passionate about volunteering and supporting the hospice too. Her advice to anyone considering volunteering with Sue Ryder is to go for it.

“Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is such a caring, comforting and compassionate place and I love being part of such a well-respected and professional team which benefits the community enormously," she adds.

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