3 Feb 2017

Friends of Sisters Hospitallers

Michael Wayland is a Superintendent Police Officer, and a member of ‘Friends of Sisters Hospitallers’, who volunteer at St. Augustine’s Home in order to improve the lives of the elderly.

How did Friends of Sisters Hospitallers start?

The ‘Friends’ were conceived by Sister Isabel Canton in 2013, as she wanted to set up such a group. After several meetings, on 7th August 2014, a first official meeting was held and present were: Sr Isabel –Chair, Mary Quinn, Mary Keen, Shirley, Diana, Monica and Sr Patricia.

In April 2015 a first full meeting took place, where officers were elected and a proper constitution adopted.

What did you aim for?

We wanted to relieve the aged residents of St. Augustine’s Home through support of the work of the Sisters Hospitallers and their care staff, in providing equipment, additional activities and interests for their benefit; and to support with grants of money the Worldwide work of the Sisters Hospitallers.

In setting up the ‘Friends’ we mirrored the existing constitution of the Friends of Footherley Hall and at the suggestion of Sr Isabel, we included a second aim in respect of the Sisters Hospitallers and their wonderful work.

How many people are part of FoSH?

We have 29 ‘Friends’ at present.

What are the highlights of this experience?

Some of the residents are very elderly and mostly just chat, watch TV, or sit or sleep quietly when in the lounge. However many of them  take part in games or activities when encouraged by the efforts of our energetic Activities Coordinator, Catherine.

It is lovely to see the residents definitely want to play with a toddler, or cuddle a baby.

We now have small children and babies brought in on weekly visits and they come to our monthly ‘Open Coffee Morning’, charging about noisily and energetically. This has a remarkable and heartwarming effect on the residents and the whole lounge lights up!

It is lovely to see the residents, including those who do not normally want to, or are unable to participate in activities, definitely want to speak to, or play with a toddler, or cuddle a baby on their lap. The carers and Sisters have even been known to take a turn as well!

Any disappointments?

The process of obtaining Charitable status so far has proved difficult but we are persisting.

What made you start volunteering?

My Mother-in-law went into St. Augustine’s in February 2013 for respite care. Ten days later she pronounced “I want to stay here!”. Having had experience of several other care homes, we were delighted with the conditions at St. Augustine’s and the outstanding care and love provided for the residents by the Sisters and carers.

Later on, there was an invitation to meet together and set up the ‘Friends’. As we wanted to give something back and help make the residents’ lives better, we went along to the meeting and that was that!