Dedicated volunteer brings smiles to sick patients

Published 5:00am 18 May 2023

Dedicated volunteer brings smiles to sick patients
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A Mango Hill resident who was forced to put his nursing studies on hold after being diagnosed with a serious illness is now bringing joy to other sick people.

Declan Hunt, 27, is known for his striking shirts and 50 pairs of colourful pants, which help him bring cheer to patients at the Mater Cancer Care Centre and Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department in South Brisbane each week.

In recognition of National Volunteer Week (May 15-21), the Mater Hospital is highlighting the more than 180 hours of work Declan has contributed to the hospital since starting in 2022.

Declan was forced to put his own dreams on hold after being diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a medical condition which affects the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body sends and receives signals.

After suffering multiple seizures which affected his ability to pursue his nursing career, Declan said he was still determined to give back to his community.

“Hospitals can be a sad place for lots of patients and if I can do something that puts a smile on their face then I will do it,” Declan said.

“I do a lot of op shopping and at least once a fortnight I buy a new pair of pants.

“I’ve even had patients give me some material to make my own pants which actually encouraged me to learn how to sew – with the help of my mum!”

Declan said wearing colourful clothes can put patients’ minds at ease.

“They know you are not there to give them a blood test or give them bad news,” he said.

Declan also turns unused sewing offcuts into sleep masks for cancer patients who need plenty of rest during treatment.

“I love making people happy. Sometimes I will sketch portraits for patients and give that to them,” he said.

“I use all my energy volunteering – I absolutely love it. This is therapy for me.

“The patients I meet are so inspiring. I enjoy talking to them and learning from them – you just can’t put a price on something like this. This is my happy place.”

Mater Volunteer Senior Manager Judy Johnson said Declan was a natural in the healthcare environment.

“Declan is compassionate and creative. He is always coming up with ideas on how to boost the morale of patients and make their day just that little bit brighter,” Ms Johnson said.

For more information phone Mater Volunteers on 3163 8599, email [email protected] or visit www.mater.org.au/group/careers/volunteering.

Dedicated volunteer brings smiles to sick patients

Saying thanks to those who give their time

National Volunteer Week (NVW) is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering.

The week-long event recognises the vital support that the millions of volunteers in our country provide to their communities and encourages people to consider volunteering.

The theme for this year’s celebration is The Change Makers.

To find out more about volunteering, visit the Volunteering Australia website.

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