Hospiscare is campaigning for fair statutory funding for our hospice. To find out more, please see www.hospiscare.co.uk/fair 


Bridget’s story – Volunteers are absolutely essential

Hospiscare's first Volunteer Services Manager, Bridget Boxall, shares her memories

We could not celebrate 40 years of Hospiscare without recognising the incredible contribution of our volunteers over the past four decades.

In the early 1980s, people who volunteered for hospices were often given roles that didn’t involve contact with the patients and families; from fundraising to administrative tasks, volunteers were often behind the scenes and had very little interaction with those whom the hospice served.

Hospiscare was somewhat pioneering with its approach to volunteering, by recognising the mutual benefits of volunteers working with patients. This is largely due to the incredible work of Bridget Boxall.

Bridget was invited to join the initial steering group that led to the development of Hospiscare and, after its founding, she volunteered for the hospice until 1984 when she became employed as Volunteer Services Manager. Bridget explains, “We could see that it was really important that patients should have contact with as much normality as possible. What was happening to people at the end of their lives was more than medical and having volunteers who could come and listen to their memories and do some of the things they were finding difficult would make their life light up in what was otherwise a difficult time.

“It was about helping people to enjoy the time that they had left and once we had found out what thing they would love to do or have, we made it happen.

“We think of volunteers as people who help the patients, but they would also do things to put the patient more at ease. I remember when a young woman came into the hospice with her new-born baby and husband. The nurses told me that the couple were getting very tired at night, due to the feeds, and so we set up a rota of volunteers to stay overnight with the baby. I joined the rota, so I have very vivid memories of giving the baby his first bottle in the morning, and then taking him back to this lovely little family. After a few days of respite, they were all able to go home.”

A group of people smiling at the camera

Bridget (centre, front row) with a group of volunteers

Bridget retired from Hospiscare in 2005 after more than two decades of dedicated service to our charity. Bridget concludes, “In all of the time that I worked with Hospiscare, we never had problems drawing volunteers in. There was tremendous good will towards Hospiscare and a willingness to come and help us. One after another, the volunteers would come back to me to say how much satisfaction and joy they had found in seeing the difference that they could make to patients and their families.

“Volunteers are not just an extra – they are an absolute essential if you are going to keep that end stage of life as normal and as pleasant as possible.”

Are you interested in volunteering for Hospiscare? We have a range of opportunities available across our charity. Get in touch with us today by emailing volunteering@hospiscare.co.uk.