Written by Jan Richards, Volunteer Journalist

For Jan Groat volunteering at Bloomhill works both ways - Bloomhill gets the benefit of skills she spent her career honing, and she gets to indulge her “geek”.

Jan started at Bloomhill mid last year and volunteers two days a week at the Centre working in admin. “I love it. I’m a geek.”

As well as being able to do what she loves, Jan says “It is really satisfying contributing something to an organization that is serving a particular group that needs it, so well.”

Jan and husband Jack moved to the Coast from the UK three years ago to live near their daughter.

“When Eleanor took citizenship we thought ‘she’s not coming home’.” So they took a “gap year” and during that time discovered there was a suitable visa and decided to stay.

Jan discovered Bloomhill when a friend took her to the café. “I got talking to people, then at home went on the website and applied.

“Alex wanted someone with my skills. I knew I could do it, but how? It took a while to come back, but it did.”

Jan says her personal cancer journey influenced her decision to volunteer, and following a sudden onset of lymphoedema she has also had experience of the clinical operations at Bloomhill.

“You could not ask for better treatment service and they were also helpful with vital information about health services. I wish there had been something like Bloomhill during my time with cancer.”

Jan is in the vulnerable category for Covid-19 and has had to curtail her work with Bloomhill. But, she says, “I’m missing it.” And it’s not just the work. “One of my delights is to talk to someone in the café who is a client.”

Jan is also in awe of her fellow volunteers. “I look at people in the café and kitchen and think, you are doing all this for nothing, you are amazing.”

Jan and husband Jack will reconsider self-isolation at the end of June, and then she’s hoping to be back behind the computer indulging her “geek” and doing her best for Bloomhill.