“PEOPLE say to me you put such a lot in, but my answer is I get far more out of it than I put in.
“I walk away from this place and I think ‘I helped somebody along the way today’. It’s very rewarding.”
Freda Vallett has been a volunteer at East Lancashire Hospice for more than 20 years.
Her time spent assisting the sick and dying in the hospice’s inpatients unit has made her a firm believer of its worth – and a keen supporter of the Raise the Roof appeal.
The Lancashire Telegraph campaign aims to raise £125,000 to build a new roof over the inpatients unit, in Park Lee Road, Blackburn.
The grandmother-of-two said: “The hospice is a superb place, it’s so nice and you can feel the love here. There is no other word for it.
“The love, the caring, the understanding, it just oozes from every department.
“Everybody in the hospice, their ambition is to be there when they are needed and to make things easier for the patient.”
A former GP receptionist at Mill Hill Health Centre, Freda said she felt ‘the call from within’ to help at the hospice over two decades ago.
She works two shifts a week for the charity, providing support in the inpatients unit and as part of the Hospice at Home team.
Freda, of St Mark's Road, Blackburn, said: “We do everything except for anything medical.
“We answer the phone, let visitors in and serve teas. If anybody wants help to eat their meal I will cut it up for them, and we just make everything as easy and comfortable for the patient as possible.
“We’re not only here for patients; we’re here for their visitors, their loved ones, their nearest and dearest. We support them as best as we can.
“You sometimes find these people will find it easier to speak to a volunteer because we’re not a doctor or a nurse.”
The pensioner, who received a national award for her voluntary work from The League of Mercy Foundation in 2006, also ‘home-sits’ with patients while their carer has a break or attends to routine chores.
She said: “The volunteers are supported by hospice every step of the way, and we’re not put in a situation where we wouldn’t feel comfortable.
“Sometimes a patient will say ‘I don’t want to talk today’ and that is fine, or they will talk forever, and that is okay too. It’s about providing whatever they want.”