Volunteer Story: Firoz Karmali

Firoz Karmali has been a patient-facing hospice volunteer for four years, but his association first began back in 2007 when his wife Susan was referred to Harris HospisCare

Sadly, Susan died only a few months after being diagnosed with melanoma, but her last few weeks were made far more comfortable thanks to the efforts of the hospice team.

“The care Susan received from the home care team at Harris was simply outstanding,” says Firoz. “I knew that as soon as I was able to, I would give something back. I wanted to help those who had helped us through such a terrible time, as well as other patients and families.”

Firoz and Susan ran a successful toyshop in Beckenham High Street for 15 years, but following her death, Firoz was soon forced to give it up as he was no longer able to look after a demanding business and two children. Without the toyshop, Firoz found that he now had time to volunteer for the hospice as he had wished. He started by driving the ambulance, taking patients to and from the Caritas Centre each week. Not one to stop at just one role though, Firoz was soon also assisting in the Day Centre and on the Reception desk. For three years he gave up two days a week supporting patients and staff in Orpington.

“During that time I got to know a lot of patients and their families too – I would collect them from their homes and we would also chat together in the ambulance” he explains. “There were extremely sad times when people died, but I took comfort in knowing that I had helped make others’ lives a bit happier and a bit easier. I have always been a compassionate person and obviously I could empathise with their situations.”

Firoz recently also began volunteering at St Christopher’s in Sydenham. He’d always thought about working there one day, and an email to volunteers asking if anyone could spare some time to help in the Anniversary Centre quickly brought Firoz into the building for the first time. “Everyone made me feel so welcome and now I volunteer on Thursdays in Sydenham and Tuesdays in Orpington,” he says. “It is so rewarding knowing that I have been able to help someone, even if it is only making them a cup of tea, bringing them their favourite biscuits or playing a game of cards – the little things make a big difference.”

Firoz soon hopes to begin volunteering in the Inpatient Unit regularly too. Thank you Firoz, from all of us at both sites, for your amazing support!

"It is so rewarding knowing that I have been able to help someone, even if it is only making them a cup of tea, bringing them their favourite biscuits or playing a game of cards - the little things make a big difference."