Meet Karl, Radiography student at The University of Liverpool and volunteer at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool

Posted 31st July 2020

The opening of Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool, the city’s first dedicated cancer hospital, brings a wealth of opportunities to people in the region. Not only to people with cancer who will benefit from the hospital’s first-class care, and staff who will have new opportunities to work in a state-of-the-art environment, but the hospital gives members of the local community the chance to give something back and improve their skills through volunteering.

Volunteers play a vital role here at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. An extension of our expert team of staff, our volunteers enhance the experience of our patients and their families across our three hospitals.

One such volunteer is post-graduate student, Karl Costigan. Karl, 30 from Liverpool, has an active interest in cancer care and is currently in his second year at the University of Liverpool, studying for a post graduate degree in Radiotherapy, a course of treatment widely offered at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

“It was my lecturer who offered me the opportunity to volunteer at the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool. During our course, we would ordinarily do work placements to give us an opportunity to learn on the job, however the pandemic meant we had time on our hands and I wanted to use that time wisely.

“I chose to study Radiotherapy as I have an interest in cancer treatment and medical physics; I studied physics for my undergraduate degree and so the two go hand in hand.

“Whilst I’ve not been able to be involved in any treatment, it’s been really interesting to experience more elements of how a hospital works. Before the new hospital opened in June, I was helping to unpack furniture and get the inpatient rooms ready. Now patients are coming in for appointments, I’m enjoying greeting them and showing them where they need to go, having a chat with them and making them feel more comfortable.

“Talking to the patients has been an important part of my volunteering experience and having the confidence to do that is a skill I’m improving on. I think it’ll be beneficial to me in my career to have a better understanding of what it means to go through cancer treatment so I’m trying to chat to patients as much as I can and ask them questions when it’s appropriate.”

Karl has been volunteering in the new hospital now for several weeks, along with many other volunteers who all support the staff at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust in providing the best support and care to patients.

“It’s been great to get to know the other volunteers and we’ve all been working together to support the patients. Being with a nice group of people, in such an inspiring space, has been brilliant. Everyone is so enthusiastic and the new setting has given everyone a new lease of life.”

Karl hopes to use his experience as a volunteer at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool to help him in his future career in Radiotherapy.

“The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is definitely a place I would aspire to work once I graduate next year. Volunteering has been a brilliant way to get to know more about the Trust and the support it gives to people with cancer.”