Helping patients and carers feel good by looking great
As much time as you can spare. An hour can make a difference to someone and the hospice is so grateful for any time you have got. I spend one day a month at the hospice helping on the pamper days.
What does your role involve?
I do hairdressing for patients which can involve wig care and advice or fitting a wig, advice on hair care pre/post treatment, general hairdressing to make people feel wonderful and to give them a real boost in confidence.
What inspired you to become a volunteer?
I have been affected by cancer in my family with my mum and also being in hairdressing for over 27 years, so many of my clients have gone through various illnesses. I have worked with the NHS with wig fitting and the hospice gave me a room to use for wig consultations which was a real support for the clients and me. When I knew what they offered on the pamper days I was more than keen to offer my help. This is such an important time for people and to do something to make them feel good is the least I can do.
Why would you encourage others to become a volunteer?
It is very rewarding being a volunteer as you are making such a difference in a small way. It can be spending time with someone to give them that little bit of normality in a difficult time and situation.
What is the best part of volunteering?
Seeing the patients come in looking very low, feeling very nervous and uneasy, then a few hours later going away relaxed, smiling and happy.
What has been your most rewarding experience being a volunteer?
A lady had come in a few times wearing a wig and she was always so grateful for the pamper days. She asked to get her wig looked at. When we were in the salon she took her wig off and was very emotional as no-one had seen her without her wig on. Her real hair had grown and it was beautiful, so I cut and blow dried her hair and she was overwhelmed with how she looked. She then, after a long chat and a few tears, had the confidence to walk back into the lounge with her own hair. She was amazing and to see her be so confident in herself was a wonderful thing to witness.
What have you learned since becoming a volunteer?
To be very grateful for my life and things will always sort themselves out in the end. It puts things into perspective. I have learned to be hands on in other areas of volunteering and watch others with what they offer within the hospice.
Has your perspective changed?
Yes it has. Knowing there is the hospice and support for people is very comforting.
What is your background?
I moved to Devon from Gloucestershire when I was 14, then I left school to do my hairdressing training. I then travelled the world when I was 21 for 6 months. I opened my own salon in Braunton a few years later and did my assessors award which enabled me to do training within my salon which I ran very successfully for 10 years. I sold the salon then went into training/education in salons over the South West for a hairdressing company Lanza Europe. Then I worked for Banbury Postiche with the NHS as a wig consultant whilst working as a senior stylist in a salon. For the last 10 years I have been working part-time at Petroc as a Lecturer/Assessor in hairdressing where I gained my degree. I have also just completed my internal verifier award as well. 6 years ago I had my son Billy who is amazing and changed my life so I juggle hairdressing, teaching and motherhood.
Tell us a fun fact about you?
I can always make people laugh and enjoy a good joke. I love dancing with my little boy and singing our favourite song.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I have a degree in Certificate of Education.
What are your hobbies?
Photography, walking and yoga.
Ali, a volunteer Complementary Therapist
Ali is a volunteer Complementary Therapist who specialises in the Bowen Technique.