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Four days at Saint Francis Hospice has taught me never to judge a book by its cover.

My name is Layla Byrne, I am a fifteen-year-old girl who has embarked on a week of work experience here at the hospice.
Layla Byrne with Sandra at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Big Brew
I had chosen this particular organisation to do my work experience because I was interested in marketing and fundraising, hoping to pursue a potential career in these fields one day. My father is a local businessman in Havering who sourced this work experience for me, as he is a regular supporter of the hospice.   

I hoped to gain a vast amount of knowledge of what occurred in this place, behind the misconceptions of doom and gloom. Before I visited the hospice, I had succumbed to the stereotype of assuming that a hospice was simply just a place to die. However, this was not the case at all. Situated at the back of the hospice space, in an area of pure tranquillity in the beautiful countryside of Havering-atte-Bower, is a manic array of offices filled with a number of people whose only drive is to keep the hospice alive and running. The employees of Saint Francis Hospice are vivacious and energetic, eager to face challenges and organise events. Despite my initial assumptions, this experience was not what I had anticipated.   

Layla Byrne with the fundraising team

On my first day, I nervously walked into the office buildings expecting to encounter a team of lifeless employees. In reality, it was the complete opposite. I spent my first day with David, who was a member of the marketing team. He introduced me to a world which interested me; advertising. He showed me his past works and latest innovations, all of which were creative and cool. He knew exactly how to target all members of the community, in order to entice and intrigue them into the lively works of the hospice. This was interesting for me as I had previously thought about potential careers in the advertising industry. 

The next day was spent with Karen learning about the 'Tribute Funds' that the hospice had set up for grieving individuals, which illustrates the compassion of the hospice and the ongoing support that they offer to all people, not just the ill. 

On my third day, I accompanied Peter and Anita in the PR office, seeing what their jobs involved and reading a selection of their articles. This was interesting as it showed their abilities to target the community and inform them of the events and happenings of the hospice. 

On my last day, I travelled with Michelle in the morning to Brentwood to witness one of the 'Big Brews' that took place in the local communities. This particular event surprised me as it showcased their support, making all of the work that the hospice does possible. 

During the afternoon, I joined Clare to be introduced into the digital marketing of the hospice, particularly interesting me as I am a frequent user of social media myself. The constant updating of the technological world is difficult to keep up with, so it is very important to update social media sites when possible, in order to target younger areas of the community and allowing them to become involved in the works of the hospice too. 

Finally, I cannot forget the help of the wonderful Mary-Anne who organised all of my expeditions and activities, taking me under her wing to show me the true ability of the hospice.   

My experience at the hospice was unforgettable as I got to understand its capabilities and the amount of work that it undertakes every year. I have enjoyed every minute of it as there is always something to do, showcasing the chaotic lifestyle of all those who work there. It has influenced my future as the 'hussle and bussle' of office life excites me. Most importantly, my experience has taught me to never judge a book by its cover, nor to underestimate the ability of Saint Francis Hospice.