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"“I like meeting people, and it keeps the brain going which I think is really important as you’re getting older.”"

“I like meeting people, and it keeps the brain going which I think is really important as you’re getting older.”

There is such a calmness about Lorraine that it belies the fact that one of the main reasons she volunteers for the Friends (and has done so for almost 20 years!) is that she likes to be busy. One of our longest-serving volunteers, she is always calm in the face of sometimes long queues and temperamental tills, and says not getting flustered is key to the role.

Lorraine volunteers in the Main Shop for two afternoons every week, and also does one Saturday in four. At one point she did stand in at the smaller, lower shop when the team was short of volunteers, but found it far too quiet! She’ll take the helm at the trolley too when required, but it is the Main Shop where she really enjoys the buzz. “It really does get busy in the Main Shop, but it doesn’t worry me.”

Lorraine joined the Friends after retiring early precisely because she wanted to keep herself busy. “I enjoy meeting people. From the other volunteers in the team, to the people who come into the shop, and all the regulars who get to know you and like a bit of a joke, it can be very sociable and I enjoy that. Plus, it keeps the brain going which I think is really important as you’re getting older.”

Lorraine often joins the other volunteers outside of the hospital too and attends events like our dining evenings, again enjoying the buzz of socialising and often meeting new people. “You work so regularly with the same people that you don’t meet the other volunteers who work on different days of the week. Socialising outside the hospital gives you the chance to do that.”

Lorraine echoes the advice that other volunteers have given to people who are thinking about giving volunteering a go, which is just to try it. “If you’re trying the Main Shop, come prepared for it to be busy, but know that you will be supported. If you’re finding anything too stressful just mention it and you can do something different like the stocking up – you don’t necessarily have to do the till. Or you can go round the wards with the trolley, there are several different roles. If you still want to do the shop side of it there’s the lower shop where it’s quieter and might be a good opportunity to get used to things. The lower shop would suit someone who wants peace and quiet, but to help at the same time.”

I ask what the challenges of the role would be for a new volunteer. “The challenge is that there’s quite a lot to learn initially, but you’re always supported. When people start on the till there’s always someone with them, so they will help them through. The main thing is not to get flustered, there’s always someone there that will step in. You put as much pressure on yourself as you want, but there won’t be any put on you.”

As we’re finishing our chat, a new volunteer happens to stroll past so Lorraine checks in with her that she doesn’t feel under any pressure. The question is barely heard, as the new volunteer is happily checking stock and clearly at ease with what she’s doing. I think it answered itself!

Thank you Lorraine.

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Charity Number: 220592

Address: Friends Office,
District General Hospital
Kings Drive,
BN21 2UD

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