'Volunteering gives me a purpose'

Matt Doonan helping out in the hospice
Matt Doonan helping out in the hospice

A volunteer has spoken movingly of how helping out at one of the borough’s biggest charities has turned his life around.

Matt Doonan, from Up Holland, has found giving up his time to assist in a Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) charity shop has aided him in his battle with depression.

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The 48-year-old has been a regular face in the Shevington store for almost five years after popping in as a customer and feeling so welcome he offered to start working there one day a week.

Matt shared his uplifting story ahead of an open day to encourage more Wiganers to volunteer for the Hindley-based hospice.

“I was suffering quite badly with depression and didn’t get out much,” Matt said.

“My wife and myself came over to the shop one day, we were having a look around and I felt really comfortable there. It was suggested that I volunteer. I was a bit reluctant at first but I started volunteering on a Tuesday afternoon and I’ve never looked back.

“Volunteering has improved my mood and it’s given me something to look forward to. It’s made me have a purpose and a focus whereas before everything was the same every day.

“It’s difficult to try and get out of that rut but this has been wonderful – it’s been a good medicine.”

Residents are invited to the Woodview Centre at WLH’s Kildare Street headquarters on February 20 to find out about roles available including reception work, providing companionship to patients in the community and volunteering in the charity’s shops.

Matt now volunteers three shifts a week at the store on Gathurst Lane and says the biggest impact of volunteering has been an improvement in his confidence.

He said: “It’s great because you grow in confidence, it gives you something to look forward to doing even if it’s just one shift a week.

“It improves your self-esteem and all the while you know the money raised in the shop is helping the hospice.”

He also believes that should he go back to work the skills he has learnt while volunteering will help him.

“There’s working on the till, dealing with customers, sorting stock that comes in and keeping the shop clean and tidy so there’s a wide range of things to do and you can develop useful skills,” he added.

Roles are also being recruited on the in-patient unit assisting staff to provide palliative care to patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Rebekah Ashley, the unit’s manager, said: “Our volunteers on the in-patient unit are an invaluable help to our nursing teams and we rely on their dedication to support us in providing our services.

“Volunteers are also a tremendous source of comfort to patients and their loved ones who benefit greatly from passionate volunteers listening and talking to them. Some also support patients to create their own personalised art and craft projects.”

The open day takes place on Tuesday, February 20 from 10am until 3pm. Staff and current volunteers will be on hand to chat about what is involved. Find out more by ringing 01942 525566 or visiting www.wlh.org.uk