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Volunteers Week – Coffee Break with Robert Mills

7th June 2023

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering in their communities. Volunteers play a crucial role across a number of Belfast Trust locations. The care and attention they provide compliments the services provided by our front line clinical and nursing staff.

Robert Mills tells us his experience as a volunteer.

What sort of volunteering do you do for Belfast Trust?

I volunteer in the City Hospital Bridgewater Suite where we look after the tea bar, which is situated in the main reception area. We also provide general assistance to patients and their friends and provide reassurance to those patients who are possibly visiting Bridgewater for the first time. Sometimes patients come on their own and feel a bit lost, so a quiet chat is useful.

Tell us about a moment when you realised you were really helping someone because of the volunteering work you do?

During my time at Bridgewater, I talk to many nice people. You meet many for the first time and you do not know whom you are talking to.

On one such occasion, the Belfast Trust received an email from the partner of a patient expressing their thanks for the time I had spent with them at Bridgewater when he was receiving treatment. That made me feel good and that my volunteering is valuable.

What made you want to volunteer?

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago and it was during that time that I felt that I had to give something back as the medical staff were very good to me and nursed me through a very difficult time. It was then that I made application to become a volunteer.

Does your life or professional skills play a part in your volunteering role?

I consider my 44 years working in industry at various levels of management has equipped me well for my volunteering role. In your role, as a volunteer, you have to make judgements on how you approach people, how you talk to them, or indeed if they want to talk to you at all.

Tell us about you?

I am 82 years old and have worked in industry for 44 years and continued to work part time as a Health and Safety Adviser. I still do the odd job.

My wife died 4 years ago with bowel cancer after being diagnosed 1 year earlier. We had 2 children, a boy and a girl, both married and I have 6 grand children

I go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week and I belong to a walking group. I have a caravan at Annalong and spend some time there in the summer. I also like the odd wee cruise.

Would you like to volunteer in Belfast Trust? Visit our volunteering section to find out how you can get involved.