Army of volunteers are hospice lifeblood
HELENA Smith’s first impressions of East Cheshire Hospice could not have been better.
The charity’s new volunteer co-ordinator was immediately struck by the professionalism and dedication of staff and volunteers.
Volunteers are crucial to the daily operation of the hospice, and there is not a department that does not depend on their commitment.
The countless tasks include general ward duties, help with day care activities in the Sunflower Centre, fundraising, administration, complementary therapies, flower arranging and working in its two charity shops.
The value volunteers bring to the hospice would exceed £188,000 annually if translated into staff hours. That is just in the hospice complex itself and excludes fundraisers, cake bakers, handicraft helpers and support groups etc.
The hospice will shortly also extend its dementia buddy programme, a service which provides dementia patients with trained volunteer assistance, and will soon be recruiting more volunteers.
Helena’s experience in volunteering with the National Trust is vital in ensuring the army of volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the hospice, continue to play a key part in its day-to-day running.
Helena, who joined the Hospice last month from Lyme Park, said: “Every single department has volunteers who help their teams run efficiently and effectively and that support then frees up staff to use their resource to the most advantage.
“The volunteer set-up here is excellent and I quickly discovered it’s an extremely well-run service and very highly regarded.
“Some volunteers have been here since before most of the staff and might still be here after staff have left.
“They’ve got a lot of years under their belt and their loyalty and commitment is hugely appreciated.
“What also knocked me sideways is the dedication of staff and their motivation is incredibly strong. They also volunteer for the hospice in their spare time and I’m fortunate to have such amazing colleagues, both paid and voluntary.”
She and husband Neil have two sons Arthur 9, and Stanley, 7, who attend Whirley Primary School where Helena is a governor.
She was also treasurer and a trustee at Whirley pre-school. “I’ve a strong connection with volunteering - it kept me sane when the boys were tiny and gave me something to focus on.”
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer for the Hospice can contact Helena on 01625 610364 or email hsmith@ echospice.org.uk.
●» Volunteer co-ordinator Helena Smith