“I feel like I am giving something back to people at the most difficult times of their lives.”

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Shares 64-year-old Helen Perkins from Peterborough as she shines a light on her role as a complementary therapy volunteer at her local Sue Ryder hospice.

Helen hopes that by revealing more about her experience this Complementary Therapy Week (20-26 March), she can encourage others to join her and the hospice team so that they can continue to be there when it matters.

Reflexologist and Bowen therapist, Helen, first joined Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice as a volunteer in 1999. Through her practice, she met and worked with clients with palliative care needs and became interested in the whole hospice movement.

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“I spent the 90s living and working in Australia and already had experience of working with people with life-limiting conditions. I felt that local connection to the hospice too, so when I moved back to Peterborough, I attended a volunteer information day to find out more.

Helen in action offering post run massages in return for donation to Sue RyderHelen in action offering post run massages in return for donation to Sue Ryder
Helen in action offering post run massages in return for donation to Sue Ryder

“Then in 2004, my father died. He spent his final days being cared for at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice and I decided to take some time out. After what I can only describe as ‘a calling’ I returned a few years later to continue supporting patients. I just love my job,” Helen adds.

Helen volunteers her time at the hospice for a couple of hours each week and says she finds it very rewarding.

“I feel like I am giving something back to people at the most difficult times of their lives. Patients tell us they look forward to their appointments. We try to make people feel relaxed and people say it is a welcome distraction for them.

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“We offer a caring and nurturing service. The treatments we give are different in palliative care from any other form of treatment - they are a lot gentler. A gentle touch for our patients is so important,” Helen said.

Helen Perkins in Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice gardensHelen Perkins in Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice gardens
Helen Perkins in Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice gardens

“We can also bring our patients additional pain relief. People come to us with lots of aches and pains. The Bowen technique is very good for referred pain. We take the time to listen and talk to people – or if they just want to be silent that’s ok too.

“As well as offering treatments to patients, we also get involved in fundraising and together we attend charity runs offering massages to ease aches in return for a donation.” Helen adds.

When asked what she would say to anyone considering volunteering as a complementary therapist at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, Helen, shared: “We need more qualified therapists to join our team so we can offer more care and support and be there for more patients when it matters.

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“I would say if you’re interested get in touch and come and have a look around and meet the other therapists. Volunteering in a hospice isn’t for everyone but if you have experience of working with clients and you want to make a difference then it can be very rewarding.”

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is looking for volunteer Complimentary Therapists to offer a wide range of services from Indian Head massage to reflexology. To apply visit: sueryder.org/support-us/volunteer/quick-apply