Claire House receptionist Tina Pearson tells how becoming a volunteer helped her deal with her own loss.

Beaming as she welcomes visitors, receptionist Tina Pearson is often the first face families and supporters see at Claire House in Liverpool.  

The role sees the former hospital manager greeting clients and contractors, assisting with admin, and offering families of seriously ill children a listening ear and comforting cuppa. 

Today, for Volunteers’ Week, Tina tells how manning the reception desk at Claire House in West Derby helped her to heal after losing her dad just before Covid and her partner 18 months later.  

She says: “It’s changed my life completely.  

“I just love it. Every day is different. You feel valued by everyone – from the staff and the contractors to the families and kids, who I always have sweets for! 

“It makes you appreciate how special volunteering is and how hard it is for hospices to keep going.  

“I don’t always know why families are here but, over time, they may want to share their story with you. It’s about supporting them through their journey.” 

Tina’s own journey – and her experience of grief – helps her to relate to families going through the toughest of times.  

She says: “I’d been a manager all my life and was working for the community pediatric team at Alder Hey. But during Covid, I had to work partly at home and manage a smaller team in the office.  

“It was challenging and, after losing my dad and my partner, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do.  

“I started spending a lot of time in the Lake District, because that’s where I’d scattered my dad’s and my partner’s ashes.  

“One weekend, I went to a little coffee shop in Bowness and there was a quote written on the inside of the cup – ‘Don’t wait for your ship to come in, row out to meet it.’  

“I thought it was a message from dad. So, I took my pension early, took a year off and decided to do some voluntary work.” 

Looking for opportunities, Tina spotted Claire House Children’s Hospice needed a volunteer receptionist in West Derby – just minutes from her Huyton home.  

Tina, 61, said: “I don’t know what made me click through to Claire House because I knew it was on the Wirral, but then I saw the former monastery in Liverpool.  

“When I came here, I realised our maintenance officer, Bill, knew my partner, so we shared that conversation.  

“For me, this has been part of my healing process. You see some difficult lives people have had, but you know you’re doing your bit. Just having a five-minute chat and making a cup of tea can make all the difference.  

“From my own personal journey, volunteering has been part of my recovery. I may not have gone through what some of our parents have, but I can understand because when I lost my dad and my partner, I didn’t know what to do.  

“Challenging myself to do something different was scary. I never thought this would be what retirement looked like, but it’s sheer joy for me.  

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever done before, but I’d recommend other people give volunteering a try for themselves.” 

Volunteers’ Week 2024 runs from June 3 to June 9.