On October 2014 an email was sent to all Voluntary Complementary Therapists at St Joseph’s Hospice requesting a volunteer to join a team of massage and acupuncture therapists at Newham in a community centre in Chargeable Lane. This was a one-off request, to stand in for another therapist who was on holiday. I had never worked with other therapists in a group situation before and wondered how Reiki would fit in.
I arrived and introduced myself. I was made very welcome. I was the first Reiki therapist to be part of the team. It was an unknown for all of us. I found some guinea pig who was willing to give it a try. I had a thoroughly good day. There was something about this project that clicked. Maybe it was working in a communal setting that I found appealing and working with other therapists.
I happened to meet Simon Robey the next day in the StJH café and told him how much I enjoyed it. I found words coming out of my mouth volunteering to come every week if he liked. He was very eager for me to join. I have not looked back since.
The Community project looks after patients from St Joseph’s Hospice who live in Newham and find it difficult to get to the hospice for their Complementary Therapy appointments. The group since it started in June 2014 has been adding to the therapies that can be offered, so now as well as massage, acupuncture and Reiki, we now can offer reflexology and gym and have community health visitors coming to visit patients. As well as therapists we have a group of volunteers who give their time in support roles caring for the patients and therapists; we couldn’t do without them.
Our team effort was recently rewarded when we were visited by an independent creditor assigned by the Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to check out the work of the support group at Chargeable Lane and write a report. This report led to an award which reads:
‘St Joseph’s Hospice Recognised by the NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group as a Community of Health, presented in Autumn 2015 for outstanding services in improving the health and wellbeing of local people’
The most important aspect of our work is to demonstrate to the community that hospice work is not only about people dying but also about learning to make the most of the time they have left, whether it is a matter of weeks, months or years.