Meet our volunteers
Meet our volunteers
I started volunteering for the Hospice on reception, but since then I’ve also volunteered as a Wellbeing Telephone Support volunteer and most recently as a Telephone Befriender. I’ve been able to volunteer from home over the last year, mostly over the phone, but also meeting other volunteers and staff for meetings online. Volunteering at the Hospice is a life-changing experience.
Over the last year I’ve realised some people are very isolated, and it can be difficult to make new connections. A weekly chat can really help someone to regain a sense of belonging, and bring them back into a community that they were once a part of, which is such a lovely thing to be able to do.
I think the pandemic has really made us all aware of our vulnerabilities, and shown us how important our community is to us. I provide support remotely now, which sounds remote, but strangely it’s not, l now have a closer, more intimate relationship with the people l talk to. It’s allowed me an opportunity to connect more, putting myself aside and really giving the other person the time to express themselves.
One of the most positive advantages of volunteering is that it teaches you so much, and l often feel l am gaining more than the people l am helping. You learn about yourself through focusing on someone else.
I already had admin and computer skills, and a bit of personal experience selling things on eBay, so when l saw the Ecommerce volunteer role on the Hospice website, and saw how much money the Hospice needed to raise each year, l knew this was something l’d like to support.
After l gave up work, I wanted to get back up on my feet and build up some confidence again. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week, sometimes a bit more, but it’s really flexible and you can volunteer as much or as little time as you want.
Whilst the COVID-19 restrictions have been in place, l’ve been coming to the Donation Centre to pick up and drop off stock, but l’ve been volunteering from home where I photograph, list and price pre-loved items on eBay.
It’s very rewarding to see how much items sell for. An old bank note recently sold for £500 and that was very exciting! The more an item sells for, the more money we raise for the Hospice, which is very satisfying.
The Ecommerce team is small, which is good as l’m a bit shy, but they’re really supportive and make you feel very appreciated. Volunteering for the Hospice has certainly helped with my confidence and self esteem. I like it that you are making a contribution and feel valued.
I would definitely recommend volunteering for the Hospice. There is a social element to volunteering that can help if you are feeling isolated. You also know that you are helping, so there’s a real feel good factor.
I’ve always been interested in caring roles, so naturally l was drawn to doing something for the Hospice. I started volunteering on the In-Patient Unit, then moved into Wellbeing and now l volunteer at the Bexhill furniture shop.
I really enjoy being around people and chatting with them, whether they are patients or customers. In the furniture shop, l clean everything up and make it look really nice, arranging the furniture to create room settings. I’ve also worked in antiques in the past, so l can often talk about that with the customers too. I really like it that it’s a hands-on role, where l feel useful and don’t have to sit around with nothing to do – no two days are ever the same.
Volunteering doesn’t just help the public and the Hospice, it helps me too.
Before I became a Hospice volunteer l was diagnosed with cancer and had to give up work whilst l recovered. After my cancer treatment l was left with Lymphodema down one side and the clinic I attended was in the Hospice, so I was coming to the Hospice regularly for appointments, and I knew then that l wanted to do something for the Hospice.
So 8 years ago I joined the team of Flower Arrangers. We re-purpose donated wreaths, bouquets and floral displays from funerals. I condition the flowers and foliage so they last longer, then create displays in vases and baskets. They mostly go in our reception area, and they really brighten it up for our visitors.
The part l’ve enjoyed most has been the people l’ve worked with. All the staff are nice and helpful, and they really appreciate it when you put a fresh display out. They tell me they look lovely, which is very rewarding.
After visiting the Open Gardens l thought it would be a lovely way to volunteer for the Hospice. My husband was cared for magnificently by the Hospice at Home team, so l knew l wanted to give something back. I was also looking for a way to volunteer with my partner Peter, who has been diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimers disease. I wanted us to be able to do something together and l knew we would both enjoy getting involved in the Open Gardens – they’re lovely places to be.
We volunteer in people’s own gardens, that they open up to the public one day in summertime to support the Hospice’s Open Garden’s programme. There are a wide variety of tasks but we don’t mind what we do, but we usually assist with the parking as visitors are coming in. I get to wear a high vis, which makes me feel important! There’s also a lot to do before the events, and sometimes l help to set things up. I’ve also volunteered in the office, making phone calls out to businesses to ask them if they will sell our Open Garden booklets to their customers.
The thing l’ve enjoyed most is that you’re very much part of the Hospice team. It’s very uplifting, as the Open Gardens are joyful events – especially on a sunny day.
I have volunteered at the Donation Centre for 4 years. I was unemployed and the Job Centre asked if l’d be interested in volunteering, they gave me a list of organisations to contact. l noticed the Hospice straightaway, as my mum spent the last few weeks of her life at the Hospice, where she was given brilliant care.
At the time I was looking to keep active whilst l was out of work and wanted to be part of a team, while giving something back to the Hospice. I volunteer 3 days a week, and help with people dropping off their donations and sorting through the donations.
The best part is the camaraderie in the warehouse. We work hard, but we also make sure we have fun – listening to the music and having a silly dance sometimes. Personally, I have gained lots of new friends and confidence.
I’m not really sure how I heard about becoming a Hospice Neighbour, I feel like the role found me rather than the other way around, I think l read about it and thought, l could do that!
I volunteer as a Hospice Neighbour, once a week for an hour or two, which fits around my work well. We might meet somewhere outside or I might be asked to do some small task for my clients, but mostly, in my case, we do a puzzle or watch a film together. Quite often we just have a chat. You can develop a wonderful connection, and before you know it two hours have just flown by.
Just before the lockdown l had started reading novels to my client. We were in the middle of a really good story and then all of a sudden I couldn’t come around anymore. l suggested that l carry on reading the story over the phone, and she was very keen. I called once a week and we carried on with it – there was a really good twist at the end that had us both on the edge of our seats! I’ve discovered since that she rather likes murder mysteries with nasty villains in them, so l’m looking out for more titles, and we’re carrying on each week whilst the lockdown continues.
I started volunteering at the Hospice about 15 years ago, when l was working and used to deliver the Newsletters for the Hospice which l could do after work. My daughter was at the Hospice, so l wanted to do a bit more.
I then marshalled at events, like the cross country, or sold raffle tickets at the Spring Fair. About 3 years ago l saw the Vehicle Maintenance role being advertised. Overall, the role is about making sure the vehicles are both safe and nicely presented for the staff who need to use them to visit patients, or for other services.
I like knowing that l have done something useful for the Hospice. Also, if l’m volunteering at the Hospice on a Friday, there are two great volunteers in the Coffee Shop who do a very good meal – so l really enjoy that.
Volunteering can become part of your life, and be beneficial for yourself.
Hastings & St Leonards Support Group
I started volunteering on Reception in 2009 and joined the Hastings & St Leonards Group shortly after.
After starting on reception I was invited along to one of the bingo sessions which was run by the Hastings & St Leonards Group. I applied to volunteer with this group and joined the committee. The Hastings & St Leonards Group also hold monthly coffee mornings, were we have a variety of stalls from books to bric a brac as well as coffee and cake. I help sort through the donations and the running of this event.
My husband had cancer and sadly passed away before he had come into the Hospice. I always thought that when I retire I would like to volunteer in some capacity.
I sort the donations for the Hastings & St Leonards Group coffee mornings throughout the week. In addition to this I volunteer on reception for 3-4 shifts per week. Visitors are sometimes apprehensive about coming in to the Hospice, especially if it is their first time, but they are always surprised at how nice the building is. It’s nice to feel you are helping people in that situation and the community.
Volunteer Voice (Rye Shop)
When my husband died in 2015, I started thinking about doing some voluntary work. I saw a notice in the Rye shop window asking for volunteers, and after an interview l started volunteering.
I recently received an email from the Hospice, asking if anyone was interested in representing volunteers by joining the Volunteer Voice Forum. The Volunteer Voice meetings take place 4 times a year. Volunteers from the different parts of the Hospice come together to represent those areas, and discuss a variety of topics that the Extended Leadership Team would like our perspective on. We are sent an agenda before the meeting, and l use that to ask the other volunteers in the shop their opinions, and then bring their feedback with me to the meeting.
For my role with the Volunteer Voice, the best part has been raising my own awareness about the Hospice and what it does, as well as seeing where the shops fit into the bigger picture. I’ve met other volunteers and become aware of the different roles there are.
I volunteered for 7 weeks during the summer holidays in 2019. I am studying for a degree in Clinical Exercise Science at Bournemouth University, and had just finished my 2nd year of study. I had already completed some placements, working alongside professionals holding exercise or dance classes, or facilitating rehabilitation for patients recovering from operations, such as joint replacement or muscle re-attachment and I wanted to broaden my experience.
I assisted patients with exercises aimed at helping them to retain as much independence as possible. I bonded with everyone, but especially with the patients – getting to know their stories. I hadn’t worked with older people before, and it was really good because l learned so much. I had to think about how to adapt familiar exercises to accommodate walking aids, oxygen tanks and various tubes. Some of the patients were very attached to their walking aids, so it was rewarding when l gave them the confidence to use some of the equipment in the rehab gym.
I’ve been volunteering at the Ore Hospice shop for 5 months. Before I started volunteering, I had been a full-time mum for the last 20 years, and a carer for my autistic son. He has recently started college and was getting more independent, so l felt more confident about doing something for myself. I wanted to start working, so the job centre suggested some courses they could put me through and one of them was in retail.
I volunteer in the Hospice shop three afternoons a week, which has given me lots of experience. My son knows l’m not far away, which has made it easier to be away from home. Taking small steps has given us both more confidence.
It was a bit scary, but very exciting to start in the shop. I have a brilliant time! I love the atmosphere and chatting to the customers. It’s been really good doing something for myself. Volunteering has also helped me to pass my Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Retail Operations.
I’ve been volunteering at the Hospice for about 5 years. I knew lots of people who either worked or volunteered at the Hospice and they all recommended it. At the time I was made redundant so was looking for something to fill my time. I like to be busy so enjoy volunteering at the Hospice and knowing I’m giving something back to the community is very rewarding.
I’ve had lots of different volunteering roles at the Hospice, from store collections, helping out at events and most recently volunteering in the eCommerce department, listing pre-loved items on our eBay and Amazon sites.
I’ve learnt lots of new computer skills, since joining the team. I volunteer once a week and the flexibility, fits well around my work.
I was looking for something constructive to do with my spare time, and another Hospice volunteer suggested I try it, I’ve been volunteering now for 5 months.
I used to be an Electrician and worked in a maintenance position in a factory. Everyone in my family knows l can fix just about anything. My nieces and nephews used to get me to fix all of their toys, and l keep fixing our household appliances, even though my wife would actually prefer a new washing machine really. I even converted my car into a campervan so l can volunteer at festivals.#
I enjoy hands-on roles, so Wellbeing asked me to start up a ‘Practical Skills’ session for anyone who would like to make something. I volunteer one day a week, which is about right for me. I like having a set day so l can plan other things for the rest of the week. I’m not that outgoing and had always felt more comfortable dealing with ‘things’ than people, so it surprised me that l really enjoyed spending time with the patients so much. I’ve been inspired by how positive and upbeat everyone is.
Volunteering in Wellbeing has drawn me out and l’ve become a better communicator overall. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot from them. I’ve personally found a broader definition of the kinds of relationships that are possible as a ‘man’
The Hospice has a friendly environment with a lot of different roles to suit different people. You find that you have skills that you didn’t know you had. I’d definitely recommend it.
I’ve been volunteering for about a year now. I started as a Ward Volunteer, but in the last few months l’ve also starting taking pictures for the Hospice. Before I started volunteering I worked as an admin assistant, but was made redundant. When l knew l wouldn’t be going back to work, l decided l would like to volunteer somewhere. My husband is still working and my kids are grown up so l wanted something to do with my time.
I started as a Ward volunteer, which l really enjoy and do once a week. I saw the Hospice were looking for photography volunteers so I made some enquiries. I like that photography part is quite flexible and l can go along to events l’m interested in, like the recent Easter Art Exhibition, and document it. I’ve taken some of the pictures of the other volunteers that are being featured during Volunteers Week, and I’m quite looking forward to taking more pictures at the Fairies and Dinosaurs event.
I like that volunteering has gotten me back into photography, which l enjoy so much, especially as I’d stopped doing it for a while, volunteering has also brought me back into being more sociable again.
I would recommend volunteering at the Hospice, because everyone is so friendly here. I’ve found it to be a very welcoming place.