Testimonal - Nuala
I consider it an absolute privilege to be a Support Volunteer in Tuam Cancer Care and am in awe of the courage and dignity of all the people who avail of our services
It is a privilege to work as a Volunteer at Tuam Cancer Care. To endeavour to help people, through what is a stressful and life-changing period, is most rewarding. For me, it is a humbling experience
I find being a Volunteer with TCC very rewarding. It is good to feel that I can support someone who is going through a difficult time
The Role of the Support Volunteer
The role of the Support Volunteer in Tuam Cancer Care is to ‘listen to and care for’ the clients they meet, or speak with on the phone, while on duty in the Centre.
The Good Listener
Everybody has the capacity to listen. A ‘good listener’ is a person who can hear what is being said, and who can convey to the speaker that they have been heard and that they are understood.
The Listening Conversation
In Tuam Cancer Care the Listening Conversation takes place between a client and a Support Volunteer; the Support Volunteer is the listener. The listening of a Support Volunteer is empathic, compassionate and non-judgemental. The focus of the Listening Conversation is the experience of the client. The Support Volunteer, by refraining from speaking about their own experience, keeps the focus of the conversation on the Client’s experience.
In this Listening Conversation the client is encouraged to talk about what is of concern to them: no advice of any kind is given. Most importantly, the Support Volunteer never attempts to answer medical questions. The client is supported by the Support Volunteer to find strategies that will help them to ask their questions of their doctor. An example of a supportive strategy might be to assist the client with writing down their questions, so that the client can then take their list of written questions with them on their next visit with their doctor.
Of critical importance to the integrity of Tuam Cancer Care is confidentiality. Everything that is discussed in the Centre (with clients or with Centre personnel) is held in confidence. The Support Volunteer never speaks to anybody outside of the Centre about anything heard in the course of their volunteer work. Within the Centre, discussion about a client with centre personnel or another volunteer takes place only when it is necessary for the care and support of the client, and thus is specifically in the interest of the client.
The Commitment Required of the Support Volunteer
Support Volunteers are asked to assist in Tuam Cancer Care twice a month during opening hours (9.50a.m.- 2.00p.m. or 6.45 p.m. to 9.00p.m.). Support Volunteers choose the two periods for which they are available each month. Attendance at Support and Guidance sessions is an essential requirement as well as In-service training. These meetings are important for the Support Volunteer’s own support and continuing development as well as development of the Service. Social evenings take place twice a year – June and December.
During their times of duty in the Centre, in addition to being available to listen to the clients, the Support Volunteer is expected to assist with the provision of juice, teas or other drinks, general tidying of the kitchen area, loading and unloading of the dishwasher, folding and storing of sheets and towels etc.
The Support and Guidance and Volunteer Meetings
Support and Guidance will take place in small groups a number of times a year with the Support and Guidance designated person. This will be organised by the Co-ordinator and is an essential requirement for being a Support Volunteer.
Attendance at these meetings is important to the work. It is at these meetings that information about new and ongoing activities of the Centre is shared. Support and help is available to Support Volunteers to enable them to deal with any difficulties encountered in their work; additional training in listening skills and ‘being present to clients’ is also provided. Attendance at these meetings ensures that Support Volunteers are supported in their work and that their listening skills are maintained and enhanced.
On starting work in the Centre each Support Volunteer is provided a Basic Training in Listening skills as well as a Manual that contains all of the information needed for full participation in the life and work of the Centre.
We at Tuam Cancer Care welcome your interest in and support of the work of our Centre.