The efforts of volunteers during the coronavirus crisis have been hailed by a local hospice.
Many of those who give up their time St Giles Hospice have taken on new roles with others having to stay home because of COVID-19.
The Whittington-based hospice has paid tribute to those who have ensured the organisation can continue running during the current crisis.
Speaking ahead of Volunteers’ Week, which starts on Monday (1st June), Amy Moore, volunteering development manager at St Giles Hospice, said:
“Our volunteers play a vital role and it’s true to say that we really couldn’t do what we do without them.
“We have 1,300 volunteers who donate up to 6,000 hours a week – a vast and incredibly generous gift of time and service that allows us to keep the hospice running.
“Traditionally, we’ve always brought everyone together during Volunteers’ Week for a celebration. Although we can’t physically bring our volunteers together this year, we still want to thank them for the difference they make and the lives that they touch.
“We want to ensure that all of our volunteers – whether they are able to volunteer at the moment or not – feel thanked and supported too, and to assure them that their efforts will be needed and appreciated more than ever when things return to normal.”Amy Moore St Giles Hospice
Volunteers are being encouraged to decorate handprints as part of a #HandsTogether campaign.
They also include a message about what volunteering means to them, with the finished prints creating a virtual Hands Around the Hospice display.
“I find it really rewarding”
Those who give up their time at St Giles Hospice take on a wide range of roles from gardening, fundraising, working in shops and complementary therapy to ward support, transport and logistics.
One longstanding volunteer, 75-year-old Biddy Brough, has supported the hospice since a family member became one of its earliest patients in 1984, and has helped to wash dishes in the St Giles kitchen for the past 33 years.
“It’s part of my life – I look forward to coming and while it’s only an hour and a half of my time each week I find it really rewarding.
“People think coming to the hospice might be frightening, but there’s such a sense of camaraderie and appreciation for what you do that I find it very uplifting.”Biddy Brough
Student Rhys Thornett, aged 17, who hopes to follow a career in healthcare, volunteers on the hospice reception desk.
“At first I thought it didn’t sound like a particularly big role but I have been proved wrong.
“The reception area at St Giles is actually a lynchpin connecting visitors, patients, healthcare workers, deliveries and staff.
“I meet so many different people and have to deal with a lot of different situations – and emotions. No two shifts are the same.”Rhys Thornett
“It has been the most rewarding experience”
Both Biddy and Rhys are currently having to stay at home because of the coronavirus restrictions, but some volunteers are still able to go into the hospice during the lockdown.
These include Jayne Graham, 56, who has swapped helping day hospice visitors and volunteering on reception for supporting staff in the Inpatient Unit.
“It has been the most rewarding experience.
“I’m just helping out with jobs like making the tea, serving lunches or having a chat with patients, but the best part of it is that I’m meeting the people that I only knew by name before.
“When I’m on reception I get to know the names of the patients from the relatives coming in to visit them, but with no visitors at the moment I’m able to meet the patients myself.
“It’s so lovely to be just a small connection between patients and their loved ones.”Jayne Graham