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Coffee Break with Kay Duffy OBE

11th July 2023

Image of a coffee cup and a photo on a notepad of Kay Duffy OBE with Belfast Trust Chairman, Ciaran Mulgrew. Text on image reads Coffee Break - Kay Duffy OBE

Coffee Break is a feature were we take some time with one of the Belfast Trust team and get to know them and their role a little better. In this edition we hear from Kay Duffy OBE, Founder of the Royal Victoria Hospital Liver Support Group.

Volunteer’s 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.

Kay Duffy OBE tells us about his experience as a volunteer.

What sort of volunteering do you do for Belfast Trust?

I volunteer with the RVH Liver Support Group – Adult Patient Care. We have a ‘help desk’ based in Outpatients at the Royal which has now resumed after the pandemic.

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

Initially when the group was set up 25 years ago, I knew immediately that our group would indeed help people with liver disease.

What made you want to volunteer?

The idea of starting a support group was suggested to me when my late husband had his liver transplant in Kings Hospital London and at the time there was really no support for relatives at a very lonely time. After a period of consideration, I had no qualms in becoming the lead in setting up such a support network.

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

Of course, it is my life now and has been since the beginning. It was a big learning curve; I had to learn as I went along, and it was important to involve others or their families who had skills to offer the group.

Tell us about you?

My husband had a liver transplant in Kings Hospital London in 1995 and it was a very hard time for myself and my family. A Transplant Coordinator suggested the idea of the group. When my husband made substantial progress, the idea again came into focus and was discussed in depth with my husband and children and other family members.

I talked to the staff in RVH and then sent out a notification to patients about setting up a meeting to establish the group. The first meeting was attended by 74 people, an indication of how much the support group was needed. Our first committee was set up with just 3 people – me as Chair, and a Secretary and Treasurer.

The group has gone from strength to strength with over 600 people, including 100 children, on our database and the number on the Committee has grown to eight.