My name is Alison Bunce, I am very proud to be a nurse and in 2019 became a Queen’s Nurse. I have been nursing for 40 years, spending most of my career in Palliative Care. I was given the opportunity in January 2016 to lead a programme called Compassionate Inverclyde. At that time, I was the Director of Care at Ardgowan Hospice and had been in that role for nine years so this was a big change. Initially I was seconded for three years however due to the success of the programme my post became substantive In January 2019 and I have been in post since.
Compassionate Inverclyde has developed into an award-winning and inspirational social movement which has been supported by Ardgowan Hospice and the HSCP since January 2016. It is helping to transform attitudes and everyday practices around loneliness, social isolation, death, and bereavement across Inverclyde.
Our ethos is fundamentally about local people working alongside existing formal services enabling ordinary people to do extraordinary things for ordinary people, tapping into our desire to be kind, helpful and neighbourly.
Relationships are at the centre, as are shared values that enhance community, relational and individual wellbeing. Ordinary people are part of a dynamic, growing and self-organising social movement of fundraisers, volunteers, befrienders, companions, community cafes, compassionate schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods.
The following list is a summary of some of the strands which have been developed throughout the evolution of Compassionate Inverclyde:
- No One Dies Alone: Trains and supports compassionate citizens as companions for people and families in the last hours of life.
- High Five Programme: A programme aimed at all sections of the community focusing on the five ways to wellbeing, helping people to understand how they can be kind to self and to others.
- Back Home Boxes: Supporting people who live alone as they return from hospital.
- Back Home Visitors: A volunteer visitor and a young person will visit an older person who lives alone and is socially isolated.
- Bereavement Café and Support Hub: The development of a meeting place for volunteers and a friendly haven for anyone in the community who is experiencing loneliness, loss, crisis, or bereavement.
- Active Learning Programme: Bringing together volunteers, leaders, practitioners and managers from health, social care and third sector organisations with an interest in “Compassionate Communities.”
- New Mum Companions: A new mum companion will visit a mum who has just had a new baby and help her relax and gain confidence to feed and bond with her baby.
Whenever I have been asked in job interviews or by someone to describe myself, creativity is always a word I use. I then go onto say I do not mean artistic as I do not have an artistic bone in my body! What I really mean is in my thinking.
I love the freedom to be able to let ideas and thoughts develop in a way that is without frameworks.
My work leading Compassionate Inverclyde is exactly like that. There is no prescription, it evolves daily, naturally following its own path, listening to the ideas of a community and letting that grass root thinking emerge.
It gives me energy and feeds my soul. I am truly grateful to be immersed in a job which fits me like a glove.
It does not feel like work; it feels wonderful to be working with the community to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.