Carmen volunteers as a Helpline organiser for Hertfordshire Cruse and has been with Cruse since 2001.
volunteered for Cruse in about 1982 because I was particularly interested in this type of work and saw a training course advertised in the hospital I worked in.
I remained volunteering in the Stevenage Branch until it closed eight years later. Then I helped set up the Hertfordshire branch because I strongly believed, and still do, that this is an essential service which it is a privilege to be a part of. I have met immensely brave and inspiring clients and have experienced the benefit of support from an amazing volunteer when my own daughter died halfway through my time in Cruse. All this keep me loyal to Cruse and addicted to the work.
I believe the most important skill for my role is to accept everyone with their own particular story and communicate that acceptance to them so they feel comfortable to talk. Cruse prepared me for the work with a good foundation course by a skilled trainer. It continues to support me today by ongoing training and by the support of caring and dependable colleagues.
I have learned that no one, in any walk of life, is immune to the feelings of grief no matter how clever or prepared they may think they are. I have learned that the major qualities for an amazing volunteer are the right attitude and feeling of care, together with the appropriate Cruse training and support. If a person has all these nothing else matters.
When potential volunteers ask me for advice I say - bereavement support is vital, you will meet some amazing people and be privileged to be part of their lives for a short while. You can make a difference. I have done this work for over 20 years and do not regret a single day.
Cruse in Hertfordshire said: “Carmen has been doing a fantastic job manning our helpline for many years. Currently Carmen is on the Management Committee, is a supervisor, helps with training and interviews for the ABC , sees clients and manages the helpline team. Although there is a small team of volunteers working on the helpline it is Carmen who does the bulk of the work, often 5-10 calls per day for 3-4 days per week. Without her we would be lost! We are all sure that Carmen puts in more hours for Cruse than anyone else in Hertfordshire and always does it willingly and with great consideration for bereaved people.”