Inside St Christopher's hospice: Volunteers share their experiences of spending time with terminally ill patients

Marta Portocarrero

St Christopher’s hospice is celebrating 50 years. The hospice was founded in 1967 and is widely recognised as the first modern hospice in the UK.

Located in Sydenham, it provides care and support to more than 6,000 people across five south east London boroughs (Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark).

Despite its main mission of providing palliative care for terminally ill patients, at St Christopher’s the focus is on life, rather than death. The hospice runs several activities to support in- and outpatients, their families and the local community.

To mark its 50th anniversary, The Independent is releasing a six-episode series, highlighting the stories of the people who have been benefiting from the hospice’s services to live a better life.

In the first episode, we follow the stories of Brenda Driscoll and Terry Hammond, two of the 1,200 volunteers who work at St Christopher’s.

For more than four years now, they both have been dedicating one day a week to spend time with outpatients.

“What it has done for me is that I’m the biggest worrier on the planet, so coming here puts things in perspective”, said Mr Hammond. “I also become very close to patients, which is painful sometimes - when they die, which you know they’re going to”, he added.

For Mrs Driscoll, volunteering at the hospice is a “two-way situation”. “There’s much I get that is a benefit for me, as much as I hope I will help other people”, she said.

St Christopher's hospice is located at 51-59 Lawrie Park Road, London SE26 6DZ

For more information, visit stchristophers.org.uk/