Sarah Lancaster

Sarah Lancaster

My name’s Sarah and I study A-Level Science at ESC. I also work as a Host Volunteer at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne on the Inpatient Unit (IPU). This is my story…

I decided to volunteer at the hospice because I want to pursue a career in Medicine. I felt this would be more helpful than shadowing doctors; it just seemed like the right thing to do. I’m actually helping people here. When I applied to volunteer I was offered the opportunity to do the Young Clinical Volunteer (YCV) programme, which is what most people my age choose to do. I felt that being a Host seemed more helpful. Also, the YCV programme is only for six months and this Host Volunteer role is more permanent.

We’re providing end of life care here, so getting used to that will help me prepare for a career in Medicine. I started as a volunteer in January 2020. I like the idea of being able to help people to be comfortable in the situation they are in, and helping the families too. We’re providing end of life care here, so I think getting used to that will help me a lot more with my plans for a career in medicine. I like being someone the patients can look to for support.

I don’t really look at them as palliative patients. I see them as people who need a bit of help or support, or company even. Some patients don’t have families nearby and I think it really helps them to have people around who they can talk to.
— Jonathan L.

The other volunteers are always really nice and the nurses and doctors are always there if you need an extra hand. The patients are also generally very appreciative of what we do. Over the last couple of months, the delivery of care has been rather different, with the introduction of PPE. Luckily, I’m quite adaptable so it’s not really been a big thing for me. I’ve been doing more shifts, of course to help out, but that’s OK too. I sometimes forget that things are different and then you see the impact on the patients of staff wearing PPE and having limited visitors, it really touches you! In my support role I have to to make things more comfortable for them, now more than ever! Wearing PPE took some getting used to; it’s really strange remembering to put everything on correctly, but you know it’s for the patients’ safety. Communication is also a little more difficult, particularly when you get a new patient. Sometimes they can’t hear you and ask you to take your mask off and it’s hard to explain to them what’s going on.

St Wilfrid’s always need more people to help with the many different roles here. I’d encourage any young person to consider volunteering; it’s something that will help you, it will improve your social skills and you’ll become part of a community of lovely people who support you when you’re down too.

To become a volunteer like Sarah, contact