A retired duo of dedicated Sheffield volunteers say their roles at a hospital care unit have given them a new lease of life.

Christine Redford (78) and Stuart Johnson (66), both volunteer at the Northern General Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit (PCU), after both they both lost their spouses years ago.

The Sheffield Hospitals Charity funded volunteering scheme allows people like Christine and Stuart to contribute spare hours to make a difference to patients across the city’s hospital sites.

I volunteer because I feel as though I need to have something positive in my life since I lost my husband...

Christine, from Chapeltown, has volunteered two days a week at the hospital for 11 years, more recently in the PCU as a Mealtime Support Volunteer.

She said: “I volunteer because I feel as though I need to have something positive in my life since I lost my husband. This fills a space in my life, and makes me feel like I’ve got something to give.  

“I’ve also been a patient myself since being a child as I was born with a heart defect. I like being able to put back something in because I’ve received care from the NHS for my whole life.

“Mealtimes are very important for palliative care patients so I do what I can to support this. Providing support for staff is also a part of the role – lots of little non clinical tasks that make a big difference.

“Volunteering can be hard but it’s rewarding. It can give you a purpose in life, for me, it’s just being able to spend the last moments with some of the patients. If they remember anything at all, I’m someone with a kind face and a smile and someone who says take care. I feel it a privilege that I can do that.

“I’ve not missed a day in 11 years; this comes first in my life now.”

This unit is in my heart, as my wife passed away here three years ago.

Stuart Johnson, from High Green has volunteered on the PCU for the last fourteen months, two days a week as a companion – keeping patients company and brightening their day.

He said: “This unit is in my heart, as my wife passed away here three years ago. The staff were all so good to not only me, but all my family, and everyone. I enjoy giving something back, and it makes me feel better for it.

“You see the joy in people’s face. Sometimes you find people you have so much in common with, who have had an identical life to yourselves, there is so much to talk about. By the time you’ve finished for the day you feel like you’ve known them your whole life.

“I’ve got some lovely people I work with, they’re treasures, they make you feel like part of the family. Volunteering is so rewarding. Anyone that thinks they want to do it – give it a go. You can still be you in a different uniform. And the cups of tea aren’t bad either!”

Sheffield Hospitals Charity funds the roles of the Volunteer Services Team, four members of staff who are responsible for leading and developing volunteering across Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

There are currently more than 575 volunteers who have committed to support patients and visitors across all of the Sheffield Teaching Hospital sites.

Donate to the Hospital Volunteer Service today