Becoming a volunteer at Acorns in the Black Country was ‘fate’ for Vic Shuck.
After retiring from work, Vic began looking for a new challenge; something rewarding that would help others.
Everywhere he looked, he came across Acorns.
Vic said: “When I left work after 38 years, I thought what do I do? My wife said about voluntary work. I went onto the computer and typed in voluntary work and Acorns Children’s Hospice came up and I thought what’s that? I put my postcode into the search engine and Acorns Children’s Hospice came up again.
“Every time I tried a new search it came up. Then I learned there was a hospice near me, Acorns hospice in the Black Country. So, I went for an interview. There was something about the place. There was a nice feeling to it, a friendly atmosphere, almost homely. It felt good.”
Vic’s journey with Acorns began with maintenance work.
“I didn’t intend to work with the children really,” he admits. “I’d never given children’s hospices much thought before I came. You imagine beds full of children, at the end of their life. But it isn’t anything like that. It’s a happy, friendly place where children come and stay for respite or short breaks. This place is a friendly, happy place to be.”
The Sutton Coldfield resident quickly moved on to becoming a befriender. It’s a role that sees volunteers work closely with the children, reading, singing and playing games. But Vic doesn’t limit himself. He’s still happy to do maintenance work, spend time in the gardens or greet families, staff and visitors on reception.
He’s also on hand to help with Acorns numerous support groups including parents, siblings and grandparents.
Working so closely with children and families has given Vic a real appreciation for just how vital Acorns services are for those the charity supports.
Vic explains: “I enjoy helping out with the sibling group. I really get on well with them. We just click. A lot of the time we’ll do creative things because it’s therapeutic for the children.”
Sadly, it also means Vic knows children who have passed away.
“It is really hard,” he said. “But I have some lovely memories. I remember stacking cards with a little girl. She was nudging the table making the cards fall down. At first I didn’t realise she was nudging the table. Then I noticed she was smiling, and she was moving it. It’s moments like that. Later, I found out she’d passed away, but I have that little memory and it’s a happy one. That’s what it’s all about, the children.”
That’s exactly why Vic keeps coming back and shows no signs of stopping.
“I’m not stopping! “ he insisted. “People don’t really want to talk about hospices, mainly because they don’t understand them. But this is the happiest, friendliest place with loveliest people.
“No parent wants to have to come to a children’s hospice. But when they do come in, they are treated like family. Seeing the expression on their faces when they know they can leave their child and go off on a holiday without worrying is priceless.
“Acorns has given me some great moments, really touching moments that will stay with me. I hope I’ve helped create some happy ones that our children and families will remember too.”