Need a book or a chat? This Auburn Hospital volunteer has you covered

Ivan Hamilton, 79, has two trolleys full of books and magazines for patients – stocked by a storeroom overflowing with titles.

Auburn Hospital volunteer Ivan Hamilton’s message is simple: if you stick with something, you get a lot out of it.

It’s a lesson borne out of experience, both in his career in the metal industry that took him from storeman to manager, and now in his 19 years and counting as a volunteer.

“I love helping out here at the hospital. I do a lot of walking so it’s good for the health,” Ivan said.

“I meet different people every day, and have a good chinwag with the patients who don’t have visitors. I enjoy talking so this has been a godsend.”

The Guildford man had been retired for two years and was, in his words, “bored stupid” when he decided to volunteer at Auburn Hospital in 2000.

His first role involved directing patients with their paperwork, and he noticed many were sitting around with nothing to do.

It was then he came up with the idea of a book and magazine trolley, stocked by donations from staff and patients.

The Guildford man has gone so far as to visit patients’ homes to pick up donated items, although some were not in the promised ‘pristine’ condition!

Over the years his brainwave has evolved into two trolleys and a storeroom overflowing with titles thanks to countless donations.

“These days most people are using their phones for entertainment instead,” Ivan said.

“But the magazines and newspapers are still popular, and we have a lot of books to choose from. Some people don’t want to take a book because they won’t have time to finish it, but I just tell them to keep it because I have so many.”

Besides taking around the rolling ‘patient library’, Ivan’s other daily duties include manning the information desk, escorting patients and visitors around the hospital, and fetching wheelchairs from “every nook and cranny” around the hospital.

At 79 he still volunteers three days a week, and has made plenty of friends among the staff and regular visitors, for whom he always has time for a chat.

“I love to help and I think you’ve got to keep moving in life,” he said.

“There’s always something to do and we are always looking for more volunteers here. If you stick with it then you’ll get a lot out of it.”

Would you like to help? Check out our volunteer opportunities with Auburn, Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Westmead hospitals here.