This morning I went off to see the children’s hospice which I’ll be volunteering at, just as soon as my CRB check finally comes back completed – that is, once the hospital’s CRB check comes back I can start, but the hospice still has to send off, and pay for, their own check. Does that make any sense to anyone? It doesn’t to me.
Anyway, I went there to look round, meet some of the staff and fill out the paperwork. I didn’t really have any expectations; although it is extremely well known in the area, I had never actually heard it described by anyone and I’ve never visited a hospice before. I suppose if I had thought about it, I would have imagined a hospital crossed with the Dumping Ground off Tracey Beaker on CBBC, but I didn’t really think about it.
Once I arrived I was really impressed. It’s a very well planned, carefully designed and beautifully maintained building. Everywhere is bright and cheerful, and very clean without being clinical or smelling of disinfectant like some hospitals do. The lady I met showed me an aerial photograph of the buildings and pointed out that it looks rather like a tortoise – the head, the tail and the curve of the shell contain the rooms for families to stay in, which are like particularly nice hotel rooms with a little garden for each one, and then the legs and stomach are the main offices and the children’s rooms. Only the children’s rooms contained any obvious signs of their real function: winches, special beds, oxygen cannisters and a host of other medical equipment all in easy reach.
It’s a place that felt a little tinged with sadness, which is unsurprising: it’s where children go if they aren’t going to grow up. But I was so impressed at how cheerful everyone was, and how thoughtfully everything had been arranged. There’s a special room for teenagers – who, I was told, are often boys suffering from muscular dystrophy, who grow up completely aware of what is in store for them – with games consoles, the biggest TV I have ever seen, the biggest bean bag I have ever seen, and all kinds of games and videos. There is also an amazing kitchen, which looks like the big brother of a domestic kitchen, but with health and safety compliant chopping boards and warning posters and so forth. The hospice aim to make it feel like home, so that when children and their families visit for respite care or for support as they enter the terminal phase of the child’s ilness they aren’t also struggling with an alien, unwelcoming environment, and I think they’ve done a fantastic job.
It feels like an incredibly important thing to be allowed to help with, even though as a housekeeping volunteer I’ll mostly be involved with the laundry, the cleaning and maybe some kitchen duties and not really coming into contact with the families at all. I will hopefully be getting a paid job with a cleaning agency, which will be basically the same duties, but cleaning for private households doesn’t feel like service in quite the same way as cleaning for a children’s hospice.
So that is something I will be starting quite soon, with the possibility that I might get a paid position when they shuffle things around in the near future.
But I found out this afternoon that the recruitment agency I had registered with over a fortnight ago, who advertised several jobs I wanted to apply for on their website (but only let you have the details if you’ve registered with them) are closing, which explains why they hadn’t contacted me in any way since I sent off the form. When I rang up yesterday to chase it, they said I’d be interviewed soon, but John was coincidentally speaking to the agency’s accountant in a pub at lunch time and he was told that the company has folded in the last 24 hours.
Well. I could take this as a sign that God just doesn’t want me to work! I’m choosing not to do that, because the thought of being unemployed and aimless for another four months makes me want to bang my head against a wall. I even found myself looking speculatively at the escort ads in the paper – not that I’ve got the bottle for that even if I was desperate enough. Which I’m not, in case anyone is worrying!
Today has been unusually nice, though. Getting up and going somewhere in the morning gave me some sense of purpose that’s been lacking since I gave up at the hospital (did I mention that they laid off all the bank staff at the end of last week, with no prospect of taking anyone back on until at least August? Another dead end, it seems.) and then I walked from the hospice into town to meet John and pick up some supplies for dinner tonight – I’m taking the opportunity to make myself burritos as mum is out for dinner with work and John has gone out for a cooked lunch. He dropped me home and I spent the afternoon singing at a volume only acceptable in an empty house, took the dog for a walk and now am considering going downstairs to watch Midsomer Murders on ITV+1 while I fry onions for my faux-Mexican meal. Don’t tell me about living life to the full.
Oh and if anyone can explain why updating to Firefox v4 has stopped the scroll function on my laptop from working, I’d love to know.