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Volunteer Story: Hannah Masson-Smyth

Hannah volunteered for over two years with St Christopher’s and was able to combine her musical talents with her CSV role

Hannah volunteered for over two years with St Christopher’s and was able to combine her musical talents with her CSV role.

Hannah, 24, graduated from the Royal College of music nearly three years ago and is now training to be a mental health nurse. Upon completing her studies, she had wanted to make time for volunteering alongside teaching the cello and working as a professional musician.

Living in Shortlands, Hannah had often heard about St Christopher’s good work through family and friends, and felt sure that we could put her time to very good use. Hannah undertook her volunteer training course in September 2013, which she found extremely interesting and useful in helping her to prepare for patient facing roles.

Hannah’s first role was on the wards, spending three or four hours most weeks with patients. “The first time that I visited the in-patient unit I was very impressed by the homely feel; the calm and quiet made them a much more pleasant place to be than a hospital.

She continues, “I really enjoyed spending time on the wards chatting to patients, and helping them with practical tasks like choosing and ordering food. Sometimes it can be difficult to judge what a patient wants, whether or not they want some company and conversation at that time. And sometimes patients would be concerned that I needed to get on with something else, and that I shouldn’t waste my time chatting to them. I’d have to explain that that’s exactly what I was there for, and that I enjoyed talking and listening to them!”

Throughout last year Hannah volunteered in the community as a SCV, which she feels offered even greater rewards by allowing her to develop longer term relationships with people under St Christopher’s care. One patient, in particular, presented a serendipitous opportunity.

“During conversation it emerged that one lady I have been visiting used to be a professional pianist. She said how much she’d love to have the chance to play some music with someone again, and was very interested in hearing about my musical background. Of course, it was an absolute pleasure to take my cello along on my home visits so that we could play together. It was lovely for me, but more importantly it also seemed to make a real difference to the lady’s well-being too.”

Hannah has played music in the Anniversary Centre before, but says that this opportunity has reminded her just what an enjoyable and uplifting experience listening to a live performance can be for patients. “When I have a little time, I’d really like to come in to the Anniversary Centre again to play and make a small, positive difference to someone’s day.”

Find out more about volunteering here: http://www.stchristophers.org.uk/jobs/volunteering

"I really enjoyed spending time on the wards chatting to patients, and helping them with practical tasks like choosing and ordering food"