Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

The following is an article published in the March 2017 issue of the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s “One + All” magazine.

Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

Volunteering at RCHT attracts people of all ages, coming from all sorts of backgrounds.  Most have inspiring stories to tell about why they have chosen to give their time to support patients, staff and visitors at our hospitals.  In this edition of “One + All” we take a look at some of these stories.

Why help? –  Why not?  says pastoral volunteer Peter

Peter Edmead  is a “Humanist Pastoral Volunteer” who divides his time between West Cornwall Hospital and the Royal Cornwall Hospital site at Treliske.  While his role with the voluntary services has had a relatively recent beginning, his interest in providing help and support to those in need has been a long held concern.

“I retired in 2013” explains Peter ‘Prior to that, I’d spent over twenty years working as a full time state teacher. Pastoral support is a major requirement in the teaching profession, especially in my roles of teacher, form tutor, special needs co-ordinator, and then Head  of Science. It was this experience, as well as my interest in Humanism, that provided me with the necessary background for my role as a Humanist volunteer.” 

After his retirement, Peter soon found himself looking for a way to occupy his free time.

‘I learned that the British Humanist Association – an organisation close to my heart, was looking for volunteers;  individuals able to ensure that all people with non-religious beliefs have access to pastoral  support.  Soon after; I began volunteering at Kingston Hospital London, providing pastoral care to those that need it, irrespective of their religion or beliefs.”

Peter and his wife relocated to Cornwall in November 2015 and he was soon fortunate enough to take up the same responsibilities working alongside Rev  Richards and the Chaplaincy team at RCHT.

Peter continues:  ‘When volunteering on the wards, pastoral support can take a variety of different forms It can involve anything from personal counsel for people dealing with challenging situations, to providing staff, patients and their families with a sympathetic ear; someone they can talk to and confide in; someone to listen.”
He continues:  ‘Given the nature of the role, we encounter so many people that are lonely or frightened;  they feel lost or in pain. It doesn ‘t take a great effort to sit and listen, to offer up some of your time to help a person in need.”

If you’re interested in volunteering at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, West Cornwall Hospital or St Michael’s Hospital, get in touch with our Voluntary Team. You can call them on 01872 253737,  email them on or write or drop in during office hours to Voluntary  lst Floor Tower Block Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, TRI 3LJ.