To celebrate Hospice Care Week’s ‘We Are Hospice Care’, we want to share some of the amazing stories of our staff, volunteers, and supporters and tell you why they decided to join the hospice movement.

Maureen Smith is one of our bereavement counsellors, providing vital support to family and loved ones during their darkest times. Here, she tells us why a personal experience inspired her to support Birmingham St Mary’s and why to her, a hospice means hope. 

I’ve been part of the Birmingham St Mary’s family for about 11 years now – wow, where does the time go?! I’ve got quite a unique role here, as I’m both an employee and a volunteer. I work 15 hours a week as a staff member but I also give up five hours voluntarily. Both roles offer bereavement support and both give me the opportunity to make a difference.

In my role as a staff member, it is my responsibility to assess those who are wanting to access our bereavement support. This involves allocating them to the best possible person, whether that be a volunteer bereavement counsellor, volunteer bereavement worker, or volunteer support worker, to ensure they receive the right care. I also assist with training for other members of staff, as well as for those outside our organisation.

As a volunteer, I have a number of people who I support, providing them with therapy during their grieving. Coping with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelmingly painful and lonely but with bereavement counselling, it is my number one priority to make that person feel safe again.

That’s what the Hospice did for me – it gave me a sense of safety. Birmingham St Mary’s gave my husband and myself a chance that we never thought we would have and so I decided to work here to quite simply, give back. I decided to use my grief to help others and make a difference to their lives.

One of the best parts of my role is to see a person relax in my company. That’s when I know the work that I am doing is having a positive impact. It’s such a rewarding feeling and it really does make it all worthwhile.

Supporting people when they're grieving can be emotionally tough but I am incredibly fortunate to work with the most caring and supportive team. The camaraderie and love is just wonderful, which in turn assists in the difficult role we play in people’s lives. That’s why to me, a hospice means hope. It’s a place to feel safe, providing people with strength and positivity.

Hospice Care Week is a national week of activity which aims to raise the profile of hospice care across the UK. This year’s theme, ‘We Are Hospice Care’, is an opportunity to celebrate the many faces behind a hospice, honouring their dedication and passion.

Maureen Smith is just one of the many inspiring people that make up our Hospice. If you, like Maureen, would like to volunteer your time and make a big difference to local families living with terminal illness, head to our ‘Volunteer With Us’ page to discover current opportunities.