News

Joanne Clarke recognised for outstanding achievement

  • by Kate Bowman
  • May 21, 2024

Joanne Clarke is one of four palliative care volunteers recognised for outstanding achievement this National Volunteer and National Palliative Care Week. She has volunteered as a palliative care biographer with the Sacred Heart Biography Service for the last four years.

Joanne’s wealth of experience in listening to people with compassion and kindness has allowed her to work with a number of challenging biography clients. Her ability to witness them telling not only their life stories but also their emotional and physical pain and suffering was greatly appreciated.

Her calm presence combined with her inner strength has allowed her clients’ biography process to be not only enjoyable but also cathartic and healing. Sacred Heart Biography Service value Joanne’s contribution to their service enormously.

Joanne was kind enough to tell us a a bit about herself and her volunteering.

Please tell us about your volunteer role and the activities you engage in at your service.
I am a volunteer with the Biography Service at St Vincent’s Hospital. I have worked with a number of people receiving palliative care to talk about their life and to write their life story. Depending on the person’s circumstances, this can take place over many sessions.

What prompted you to volunteer in palliative care?
Arising from both professional experience and personal experience of loss and grief, I wanted to offer my time and experience to people at this significant time in their life. It is a privilege to sit with people as they tell their life story. I also wanted to volunteer in a service/organisation that provided support and ongoing learning.

What do you enjoy most about being a palliative care volunteer?
Spending time with people and listening to them as they reflect on their life, being a witness to their unique life story. I also highly value the ongoing learning and support I have gained from other volunteers and the Biography Service coordinators.

Please tell us about a time you had a particularly inspiring volunteering experience.
Each person’s life is unique and rich. I am inspired when people feel they can talk about aspects of their life that they have may not been able to convey to others or they had not had the opportunity to talk about beforehand. This often provides them with some sense of peace and calm.

Please share some words of wisdom for fellow volunteers.
It is a privilege to be with people as they talk about their life. Being open to ongoing learning and growth as a volunteer has really enriched this experience for me.

What would you say to someone who might be thinking about becoming a palliative care volunteer?
It is reciprocally rewarding and satisfying to be a palliative care volunteer, to sit with people of widely varying backgrounds, ages, and life experiences as they reflect on their life in its richness and as they talk about their life in its fullness; and then to complete the process with the physical biography that can become a document for family, if that is what is wanted.
It is a role the requires being flexible and adaptable as people’s circumstances can change. I value highly the opportunities for ongoing learning, regular supervision and peer support and would highly recommend any intending volunteer to take up any such opportunities offered.

Congratulations on your well-earned award, Joanne. We certainly appreciate your hard work and compassion.

Upcoming Events

NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteers – September meeting
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  • SEPTEMBER 12, 2024
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NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteers – September meeting

The role of the Network is to ensure best practice for NSW Managers of Pall...

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NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteers – December meeting & Christmas lunch
UPCOMING
  • DECEMBER 12, 2024
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

NSW Network of Managers of Palliative Care Volunteers – December meeting & Christmas lunch

The role of the Network is to ensure best practice for NSW Managers of Pall...

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