We love all our volunteers here at St Oswald’s Hospice and we couldn’t provide our services without their ongoing support and commitment. We’d like to say a big thank you to all our Volunteers during this Volunteers’ Week, 1 – 7 June.
Volunteers’ Week is a nationwide campaign which recognises the contribution that millions of volunteers make in the UK. At St Oswald’s, we have a team of over 1,100 volunteers who work at the hospice and support us in the community. From retail assistants and receptionists, events ambassadors, through to drivers and gardeners, every department within St Oswald’s receives invaluable support from volunteers.
We chatted to one of our volunteer ward helpers, Stephanie Stevenson-Ward to find out more about her role and why she volunteers:
Why do you volunteer and what do you think the benefits of volunteering are?
Initially, I applied to volunteer because I fancied a career change and didn’t really know where that was going. About two weeks before I started in February 2016, I quit university and my job as a carer to be a full time carer for my (then undiagnosed) autistic son who was having some real difficulty getting settled into nursery. Now, I do it to give myself a break from my real life.
St Oswald's Hospice is my happy place!
What does a typical day of volunteering involve?
I tend to do morning coffee shifts, and so my duties include changing water jugs to keep all our lovely patients hydrated and making coffee. I do the best I can to make sure that everyone is as restful and comfortable as possible. But it’s so much more than making beverages – I’ve given hugs to grieving relatives, smuggled chocolate from my Easter raffle prize to a gentleman who was really fancying something sweet, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with relatives who are dealing with what I call “pre-grief”. I love getting to know people and the social side of my role is my favourite.
Can you highlight three things you have learned since volunteering at St Oswald’s Hospice?
I have learned so much about how people deal with illness and grief, and I have a newfound respect for the people involved with providing end of life care. It is a chance to make a difference to someone’s life every time you step through the door. I get to talk to people other than my six year old, and the conversation is a lot more stimulating! I’ve met some wonderful volunteers and staff and made friends with people I’d otherwise not have met.
Other than volunteering, how do you enjoy spending your spare time?
I hold another volunteer role through which I hope to improve the special needs and disabilities support for children and vulnerable adults in my area. I also enjoy reading, gaming, being a mum, cooking and socialising. Through my son’s condition, I’ve made some wonderful friends and we have kitchen picnics at my house at least once a month where we all cook and share our dishes!
What would you say to someone who is considering a volunteering role?
I’d say, do it! Everyone can volunteer and there’s a role to suit people of every age, ability and skillset. For me, it really boosts my confidence to know I am doing something good for other people, which is its own reward.
Please visit our website and social media accounts throughout the week for news items, pictures and videos showing our Volunteers' Week celebrations.
If you would like to use this year’s Volunteers' Week to discover how your skills and time can make a huge impact on St Oswald’s, please click here to explore our current opportunities.