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To mark National Volunteers’ Week, we are teaming up with St Giles Hospice to tell the stories of some of those who give up their time to help the charity.
When her mum died back in 2003, Jane Swingle vowed that she would try to give back some of the love that St Giles Hospice had given to her mum in her final days.
This wasn’t the first time that the hospice had provided care for her family – two years previously, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, Jane’s dad also spent his last weeks at St Giles.
Now – thanks to a reflexology course Jane took back in the 1990s – Jane has been able to fulfil her ambition to work with the charity.
“I’d never heard of reflexology, but I was struggling with my health at the time and an alternative therapist suggested that I try it.
“When the therapist asked me about a medical condition I’d suffered with, I couldn’t believe how she could know about it just from touching my feet – I became a convert.”Jane Swingle
After spending 30 years working in care, Jane wondered whether her skills might be something that she could offer to patients to the charity.
She spoke to Amy Moore, the volunteer manager at St Giles, and was invited to demonstrate her skills.
Following further checks she was introduced to her first client, who attended an MS group at the hospice.
“I was so nervous, I started to doubt myself and wondered whether I would be able to make a difference.
“But I thought ‘just be yourself Jane and do what you do’.
“At the end of the treatment the patient said to me they could move their foot for the first time in 10 years.
“And the rest, as they say, is history.”Jane Swingle
Jane now gives her time to St Giles once a month to provide treatments for patients.
“I go in early in the morning so that I can provide treatments to the staff who have just finished their shift and then I spend the day with patients, carers, family members, doctors, nurses – in fact anyone who thinks they will benefit.
“I felt as if my whole world had opened up, and now thanks to St Giles’s support, my skills are truly valued.”
“I’ve been on all the education courses that St Giles offers to its volunteers. The knowledge I’ve gained is amazing and it means I’m able to offer so much more to the patients I look after.
“St Giles is such an amazing environment for people to learn in, as the nursing team there are not only absolute specialists, they are very special people too. I really feel like I’m one of the team.
“I never thought I could thank St Giles for what they did for my parents all those years ago, but now by doing my little bit I feel I am getting a little closer to being able to do that.”Jane Swingle
For more details on how to volunteer visit the St Giles Hospice website.