Cathrine Robinson is taking a break from her day job at Waitrose in Billericay to do a secondment as a volunteer in Basildon Hospital’s Breast Care Unit.
Cathrine was a stage-three breast cancer care patient in 2015, and wanted to give back to the team after completing her treatment programme.
As an employee of Waitrose, the John Lewis Partnership provided the opportunity for her to do a volunteer placement with a charity of her choice.
The Golden Jubilee Trust scheme allows employees to be released on full pay to work with a local charity.
Cathrine completed a comprehensive application process detailing why she wanted to volunteer. Familiar with her story, Basildon consultant breast surgeon, Dr Wayne Chicken and John Baron MP of Billericay, endorsed her application.
The breast care unit also has a fundraising team, which is part of the Basildon Hospital charity, and consists of medical professionals and current and ex-patients.
The team, called BUST (Breast Unit Support Team), fundraise to improve the unit and provide a better patient experience.
Talking about her new role Cathrine said: “This is a great opportunity for me! I’m here for three afternoons a week. When I saw the information about the programme I knew immediately that I wanted to come to the breast care unit and give something back, I’m familiar with the team and it’s local.
“My three main objectives in my application were to be an initial point of contact, co-ordinate fundraising projects and recruit more volunteers and I aim to achieve that. When I leave in mid-May I will leave the unit better than I arrived. This experience really makes a difference and hopefully will enhance the experience of patients.”
Vanessa Kendall, nurse practitioner lead in breast care explained the benefit for patients: “This programme provides a really positive opportunity for patients. Cathrine can relate to them as she has been in their shoes and it makes the patients journey easier. She is available for patients and visitors as they arrive, to provide a warm welcome and assistance."