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Volunteering for Sanshika has helped her develop skills and shape her studies in medicine.

“To anyone looking to volunteer, JUST DO IT! It is such a surreal experience that allows you to give back but also gain so much. From personal skills to making friends for life and coming home knowing that you have made a difference.”

Sanshika is a first year medical student at the University of Glasgow and an avid volunteer with CHAS. She began volunteering with CHAS in 2020 when she was in S4 and she says it has been one of the best decisions she has made.

What prompted you to become a CHAS volunteer?

The book 'Being Mortal' was the first insight I gained into hospice work and the importance of palliative care in medicine. It furthered my interest in finding out more about the amazing work that hospices do around the country, providing support to families and individuals needing palliative care. Volunteering at CHAS has become a part of my weekly routine, it's wonderful seeing all of the smiley volunteers and amazing families working together to create such a positive and comforting environment.

Tell us about your volunteering roles.

Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, my main roles were toy cleaning and fundraising activities. During COVID I was a part of the story-telling team and also joined the CHAS Connect Contributor Writer team. This role involves writing articles about all of the work CHAS is doing, keeping our existing and previous volunteers in the loop. I'm now part of the Activities Team and still a CHAS Connect Contributor writer which are both equally interesting and important as one allows me to interact with children and families and the other allows me to keep in contact with our volunteers and alumni.

Can you tell us about any specific projects you’ve been involved in or any particular accomplishments where you feel you really made a difference?

There is never a dull day with CHAS and everyday spending brings a new sense of achievement. I recently published an article on CHAS's 30th anniversary - this was one of my greatest achievements as I was able to share the amazing work of CHAS with everyone and summarise the key events that took place to help form this brilliant charity which changes lives on a daily basis.

What challenges, if any have you faced as a volunteer?

Initially volunteering was daunting as I didn’t know many volunteers and was nervous as to how to behave with families going through difficult times. Looking back, joining CHAS has been one of the best decisions I've made, as it has allowed me to be part of a team that is continually making a difference as well as developing my own empathy and reflective skills. CHAS has a way of bringing smiles to the faces of children and families that are going through difficult times. It makes the whole process even more special!

And what about successes?

Coming home and knowing that you have made a difference is one of the greatest senses of achievement. I've made so many great memories from working with fellow volunteers to chatting to the families and providing comfort and care. The foundation of CHAS is its values and it helps create an invaluable and comforting place for people.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a volunteer with CHAS?

Reach out and ask! Don’t be scared to move out of your comfort zone and enjoy the process. The team is so lovely and welcoming, it feels like you’ve known them for ages.

How do you balance your volunteer work with your other responsibilities and commitments?

By having a calendar and every week putting in my volunteering time. CHAS is very flexible and sometimes if I miss a week, I’ll add it to the next to keep myself right. This means that I'm able to juggle my university work with my down time and volunteering. Volunteering with CHAS has become such an integral part of my routine now, seeing the smiling faces and creating beautiful memories.

What do you think is the most important quality a successful volunteer should have?

Having a real sense of empathy and commitment to care is integral within every volunteer. Being able to communicate with the families and also having a sense of care-freeness makes volunteering even more exciting. When working with the children, it reminds us all of an inner child within us and coming to that realisation means that the volunteers are able to better connect with the children and families.

How you think your volunteer work has contributed to your personal growth or development?

I've grown exponentially both from a career and personal point-of-view. I have developed my communication skills and also networked with professionals. Volunteering with CHAS has also helped me to confirm my choice of studying medicine with a view to progressing to palliative care. I've also made some amazing friends along the way and created so many memories!

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