Walsall volunteer Maxine Douglas is supporting Black History Month as an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the different cultures that make up our communities.
The mother-of-four volunteers for the Chaplaincy service at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, a role she has been carrying out for just over a year, following her training.
“Both staff and patients at the Trust have been very warm and very welcoming,” she said.
“I have not found any barriers due to my ethnicity but I am aware that this is not necessarily experienced elsewhere. I think Black History Month gives a focus to the work that is needed to bridge those gaps and the fact that it raises awareness about diversity is to be welcomed. I would like to see this spotlight, as it could be called, continue beyond Black History Month but it is a positive start.”
Maxine, who is originally from Leicester, and married “a Brummie” has made her home in Walsall with her two adopted daughters and twin son and daughter. It was when one her sons became ill a couple of years ago that she started to consider becoming a volunteer.
“My son had a problem with his hip and we didn’t know what was wrong with him – it was an extremely worrying time for us all,” explained the 48-year-old. “He ended up in hospital and as it was close to Christmas we feared he may have to stay in hospital over the festive period. At that time we were trying to be strong for our son and the rest of the family and I was acutely aware of other families going through exactly the same thing.”
Maxine’s son was home for Christmas Eve but spent a lot of time sleeping because of his medication and still needed to go back to hospital.
“At that time I was talking to and listening to others and even when I knew my son would be OK I carried on that role. It set me thinking that this was something that I wanted to continue doing. I felt I was giving something back,” said Maxine, who is also a Minister in training.
“I get so much out of being a volunteer. People trust you, open up to you and consider you an important part of their lives at that important point in their lives. What a wonderful role to be able to develop.
“I hope Black History month gives us all an opportunity to appreciate each other and the contribution that is being made to the Trust, its patients and its staff demonstrating more similarities which super exceed our differences.”