Sue Mansfield is an OrangeLine volunteer at Saint Francis Hospice. OrangeLine is the Hospice’s confidential helpline for local people who are feeling lonely, isolated, or in need of friendly conversation. Some may be going through a bereavement. The service helps people make new connections, start new friendships, and receive guidance and information.
When Sue left school at 18, she needed a job. She landed in secretarial work, but for the next 42 years, never quite felt fulfilled. ‘I hated it,’ she admitted. ‘But I got used to the money and felt trapped. Deep down, I always knew that I wanted to be in a job where I helped people.’
When Sue retired at 60, it was the perfect opportunity to do just that. ‘I always thought about volunteering for Saint Francis Hospice but was worried that my emotions would get the better of me,’ she revealed. ‘I was frightened that I’d end up in tears all the time.’
Any fears Sue had soon dissolved when she discovered the Saint Francis Hospice vibe. ‘From the very first minute of meeting the other volunteers on OrangeLine, I loved it. I certainly didn’t expect to hear laughter at the Hospice, but there’s lots of happiness here.
‘I get to speak to people of all different ages and from all walks of life. Some are on their own, with no family or friends, and can’t get out of the house. They really look forward to the next phone call from us and appreciate what we do for them.’
Sue, now in her third year of volunteering, cites being a good listener as what it takes to be on OrangeLine. While many calls do pull at her heartstrings, she’s learned not to take things home with her.
‘The great thing about volunteering on OrangeLine is that you’re not thrown in at the deep end,’ she said. ‘We’re all given training, and there’s psychological support when we need it too.’