20 Feb 2020

My experience of voluntary work, by Sister Isabel Cantón

Sr Isabel is a Sister Hospitaller in the English Province, who is doing voluntary work at three places around London. She would like to share her experience and how fulfilment it is on a personal level.

At the Chelsea Champion Community Project

This is a centre off Fulham Road were a group of young staff, mostly volunteers, run a centre/club to help people who live alone to improve their health and have a place to go and socialise. This place is funded by the NHS. Specialised personnel give talks on health issues and help in general with the wellbeing of the community. I meet with people, talk and listen and help in whatever way I can. I like to invite those who live alone to come to our home for a cup of tea/coffee and a chat. I have been going to this centre every Tuesday since October 2019.

At the Cardinal Hume Centre (The Passage) by Westminster Cathedral.

Since December 2019, I have been volunteering to work at the ‘Passage’ serving lunch to the homeless who come to the centre for three meals a day. I have been allocated to serve lunch to around 100-150 people. I am part of a team of 12 volunteers. My work is to serve lunch. It is usually a three-course meal. I also go to the dining room to help collect the plates, clear up the tables, help with the washing up, peel potatoes, prepare the vegetables, clear up the ovens after serving the meal and any other work I am asked to do by the person in charge. I normally work from 11am to 2pm.

At the end, I can dedicate time to meet the homeless and listen to their worries and difficulties and help in whatever way I can.

At the Chelsea and Westminster hospital

I started working as part of the Chaplaincy team at the hospital in September 2019 and I go once a week. I am normally allocated to different wards to visit patients, greet them, talk to them and listen to whatever they want to share. Sometimes I am asked to bring Holy Communion to the Catholic patients. As I live very near the hospital, I was asked during the Christmas period if I could be on call to bring Holy Communion to the Catholic patients who request it. I accepted happily. We started the celebration of Mass on the first Wednesday of the month and I was asked to get in touch with the communication office to ask them to announce it on the hospital website and in the bulletin. I was given an identification card with which I can open the doors to go to the different wards/department.

I thank God for giving me all these opportunities to help people in need outside our own home. And I also thank the community for supporting me in this work.