Gail’s story

Since retiring as a Headteacher, Gail has put her 42 years of experience in primary education to good use.  Her passion for doing something worthwhile led her to The HealthBus Trust, where her skills are helping people experiencing homelessness access healthcare, and find connections and someone to listen.

“Finishing work can be an anxious time, you can’t permanently be on holiday so what’s next?  I wanted a challenge.  I’ve known Maggie, the GP who set up the HealthBus for a long time and really admired the charity’s work, so it was a natural step.  I’ve been volunteering with them since September 2022 and it’s been more amazing than I thought possible.  At the weekly Thursday morning clinic, I work with a small group of volunteers to support the team.  I’m not a health practitioner, but care in a different way, by being a friend, making a hot drink or some toast and chatting to patients whilst they wait for their appointment.  Helping people relax and feel comfortable means they are more likely to seek help, preventing conditions from getting worse.

Gail HealthBus Trust volunteer

Most people are polite and kind, but some might be having a bad day. Addiction can be a factor and it also plays a huge part in isolating people from their family, friends and support. The opposite of addiction is connexion and it’s surprising how much of your own experience you can pull on to help.  Being there each week, you develop relationships.  It might take a while to get to the next step, but as in education, building self-belief is key.  You can’t impose solutions on people, instead, you must create trust, and confidence and asking: ‘What would you like me to do?’ is much more powerful.”

Deano Pickering, Executive Director, said; “CAN’s commitment to our cause significantly enhances our ability to provide essential care to those experiencing homelessness. This support not only amplifies our efforts but also serves as an inspiration for others to join us in creating a positive impact on our community.”

Now Gail also uses her extensive experience to deliver talks about the Trust: “I’ve loved it and it plays to my skills. Developing a presentation gave me the chance to learn more about the charity’s history, development, the numbers of those helped and plans for the future which helps to raise the profile of the service and fundraise for it.

Volunteering has given me so much and it changes you. You learn about people’s lives who you would never have come across and the impact of decisions, events or policies on them.  It makes you thoughtful, non-judgemental and thankful for any security you’ve had.  I’ve met so many fantastic people, volunteers, staff and patients through this incredible charity and I love being able to give something back.”

In November 2023, the HealthBus was awarded The King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS). This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. HealthBus Trust is one of 262 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award. Their work, along with others from across the UK, reminds us of all the ways fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities.

Become a volunteer with the HealthBus Trust. For information on other volunteering opportunities in Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole email: or visit

Kings award for voluntary service logo