People come to volunteering for all sorts of reasons. For me it is because Hospiscare holds a special place in my heart. Four years ago, my step-dad Malcolm became ill and passed away from cancer. During this time, Hospiscare provided us with profound, unwavering support – in terms of Malcolm’s care, and also as a family losing a loved one.
Not long after Malcolm passed away, I knew I wanted to give back to Hospiscare and become a volunteer. During the first couple of years after Malcolm’s death, I knew I wasn’t ready. My grief was too raw, too present. So I did what I could in the interim – I donated to Hospiscare shops, entered the weekly prize draw, bought Hospiscare Christmas cards and chose Hospiscare as my charity when I signed up to Amazon Smile. Then, a year ago, I decided I was ready and applied to be a volunteer.
The initial application form on the website was nice and simple, and gave me an idea of the different areas I could volunteer in. I suggested I might be a good fit for communications and marketing; it has always been a small part of my job, and I’m pretty good with words and a computer so it seemed like a good fit.
I very quickly received a phone call from Vicky, the Volunteering Manager at Hospiscare, and popped into Searle House for an ‘interview’ one day after work. I use inverted commas because it was more of a casual conversation – Vicky immediately put me at ease.
We agreed I would volunteer with the Communications and Marketing team once a month on a range of projects – including doing research for the new website and writing content for the blog.
On my first day as a volunteer, I was anxious about what I’d be doing, and of course about meeting new people, but all of the staff are so kind and welcoming. The Communications and Marketing team immediately made me a coffee, grabbed me a freshly made cheese scone from the kitchen, and made me feel part of the team.
Left to right: my brother Matthew, dad Rob, step-dad Malcolm, me and my sister-in-law Gemma at Dad and Malcolm’s wedding, a few days before Malcolm passed away. Thank you to Hospiscare for making this moment possible.
I help out with a range of tasks when I’m in the office – from small admin and research jobs and compiling website data to my one true love – writing. I work in Higher Education and have been an academic and writer for my whole professional career. The team give me a topic that they would like a blog post about – I’ve written about everything from alternative funerals to self-care – I research and write, and the post is then checked by the team before it is added to the Hospiscare website. I love it when I get an email from Sofy or Natasha telling me my latest post is up.
It’s always nice to see your words in print, but this article is particularly special as I know these words could help someone like me, or someone like Malcolm. Writing is a skill I take for granted as part of my everyday life, but it is so useful to the team and to the charity. After the support Hospiscare gave to us when Malcolm was ill, it is humbling to be able to give something back.
I work full-time, but due to flexible working arrangements I have time to volunteer. I’m getting a lot out of it; I’m learning new skills to take back to my day job, from using Google analytics to how to support colleagues with illness and death.
Even though my volunteering role involves going into an office, it is completely different to my normal work. It feels restorative; it’s a productive break from my day-to-day, and I really find it good for my mental health. Sofy, Natasha and Ben never fail to make me feel welcome, provide me with caffeine and snacks (they’re awesome for snacks!) and the BEST Netflix recommendations. If you’re thinking of volunteering for Hospiscare, my advice would be to do it. You couldn’t find more valuable work and better people.
I want to end this post with a thank you to the wonderful Communications and Marketing team for making me feel like one of their own, but also to the nurse who supported us during Malcolm’s illness – Jane. I have tried several times to find the words to express what you did for us, but I just can’t (and I’m never usually short of words). All I can say is thank you to you, and everyone at Hospiscare, for what you to. It is a privilege to be a part of it as a volunteer.
Hospiscare is a local adult hospice charity, providing high quality care and support to people with any type of terminal illness, and those close to them, in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. A gift to Hospiscare in your Will helps to ensure the future of the charity in Devon for generations to come.