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Lynn Paine Banner

Helping Others Is A Way Of Life For ellenor Volunteer

Volunteer Lynne Paine has had a charitable heart since she was a young teenager and is determined to continue helping others during her retirement.

She started volunteering at ellenor one day a week while she was still commuting to London and hasn’t looked back. She is regularly to be found in the reception area of the Northfleet hospice meeting and greeting everyone who comes through the door. Or she will be out and about meeting with ellenor patients and their families as a befriender.

Lynne, 59, said: “I have been volunteering at ellenor for about five years. It is a special place, and you can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in. Everyone wants to help everyone else.”

Her involvement with the charity began when she worked for HSF Health Plan, whose parent company The Hospital Saturday Fund awards grants to medically associated charities and individuals.

She said: “About six or seven years ago ellenor applied to the fund for a grant and as I lived in Gravesend, I was asked to present the cheque, and that’s how I got involved.”

Apart from six years working as an administrator at the old Gravesham Community Hospital, Lynne spent her entire working life in London. By the time she started volunteering at ellenor she had dropped to four days a week. Later she dropped to three days a week and one of those days she was working with The Hospital Saturday Fund, visiting a whole host of charities and organisations, and assessing their suitability for grants. This is when she learned even more about how charities work and how important they are.

She said: “Working in London, I was leaving home at 6.45am and getting home at 6.30pm; it was a long day. I started to work part time a while ago; I just wanted to get back into community life. I started volunteering at ellenor and found out so much more about what they do for families. I started as a befriender one afternoon a week, visiting about three different clients. I just sit with them for an hour or so and give them some company.

“The pandemic was really tough on people and sometimes I would have clients crying down the phone. I wanted to drive straight over to their house and hold their hand, but I couldn’t do anything. My instinct has always been to help people. I think it must come from my mum; she comes from a caring background. She was a social worker for the elderly and a matron in a home for the elderly.”

Lynne now splits her time, spending alternate Thursdays with her befriending clients or meeting and greeting at the hospice.

She said: “On the weeks I’m at the hospice, I still ring my befriending clients and see how they are getting on. Sometimes being a befriender just means sitting and holding someone’s hand and giving them your time. I often end up spending time with the husbands or wives too. If their loved one has dementia, for instance, they can feel very lonely. My mother-in-law had dementia, so I know how important it is to have someone else to talk to.

“I used to do a lot of voluntary work when I was young, at the old Darenth Park Hospital – I would go up there and help the League of Friends, and down to Joyce Green Hospital. I used to help there on the children’s wards when I was 12 or 13; I’ve just always been that sort of person.

“When I left school, like everyone in those days, I wanted to be a nurse. Because it was so popular I was going to have to wait until the next batch of intakes and I wasn’t prepared to wait that long.”

Lynne always enjoyed the cultural mix of people she met during her busy working life in London and says life at the hospice often mirrors that experience.

She said: “I meet different people from all walks of life, which is what I like. I just feel I am being there for somebody and being part of something, meeting patients and clients and meeting people who work at ellenor. I put on my lanyard and think here we go; I feel part of a family at ellenor.

“I lost my dad about four years ago and when I came back to ellenor people in the Wellbeing department were so kind to me and said I should take time off to grieve. It’s nice to know that people care.”

Now Lynne and her husband Richard have taken early retirement they are planning on spending the first year or so having little trips and using up vouchers they were unable to use during the pandemic for things like theatre trips. They will also be spending time with nephews and nieces and with her husband’s family in the West Country and celebrating her 60th birthday and her mum’s 80th.

Lynne said: “I think this first year is time to refocus, but then I think I will probably do more for ellenor as it has become such an important part of my life.”