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After a close friend died from cancer, left feeling ‘bereft, alone, and terribly lost’, Penny Downer received free bereavement support from Mountbatten.

The counselling helped her adjust to not only the death of her friend but other bereavements too.

"I hadn’t realised how significantly these deaths had affected my life,” said Penny, from East Cowes. “After I had finished my sessions, I felt compelled to help other people find their way through grief and to understand they are not alone."

Penny took an online course in the basic skills of counselling and when a position as a part-time member of the reception team at Mountbatten came up, she applied and landed the role - hoping that if she was unable to volunteer straight away, she would be able to help patients and relatives in a different way.

Five months later, Penny started the bereavement training course that would lead to her realising her ambition of becoming a bereavement volunteer.

“Volunteering and working for Mountbatten is a dream come true,” Penny said. “I’ve never worked in such a caring and compassionate environment where you hear laughter, even on the days where there are lots of tears.”

The bereavement volunteer team provide a listening service to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. Volunteers work alongside Mountbatten’s expert team of counsellors, providing one-to-one support, bereavement groups, and a helpline for anyone who needs to talk.

"I feel privileged to be trusted with people’s innermost thoughts and feelings, spending time to help them realise they are not alone and to aid them in finding their way through their grief,” said Penny.

Anyone can access Mountbatten’s free bereavement support no matter where or when the death of a loved one took place. Thanks to Mountbatten’s partnership with KissyPuppy, the Sophie Rolf Trust, specialised support – which often involves music and art therapy – is available for families and children, too.

Volunteers are vital in ensuring Mountbatten’s services continue and grow. And as Penny has discovered, volunteering is just as fulfilling for her as it is crucial to Mountbatten’s mission to reach everyone who needs care and support through death, dying, and bereavement.

“For decades I’ve not had a full outlet for my skills and volunteering has allowed me to release and embrace them. It has been a wholeheartedly liberating experience. 

"Being able to help people, when they are at their most vulnerable is incredibly humbling and fulfilling.

We have a range of rewarding volunteer roles to suit your individual skills and goals. Get in touch below:

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