St Giles Hospice is celebrating the hard-working and dedicated army of volunteers who give an amazing 6,000 hours of support to the charity each week.
Speaking ahead of national Volunteers’ Week on 1st-7th June, St Giles CEO Emma Hodges said she wanted to use the event to thank the hundreds of volunteers who support the hospice on a daily basis.
“Our volunteers are absolutely vital to the hospice and we actually couldn’t do what we do without them,” she said.
“Across the hospice sites, in the shops and out in the community, our volunteers donate more than 6,000 hours a week, which is a contribution of time of more than £2.3 million a year.
“Whether it’s a volunteer who has worked with us since the hospice opened or a young person adding skills to their CV, thank you all for your time, commitment and dedication to St Giles – we simply couldn’t do it without you.”
There are more than 1,200 volunteers currently working in St Giles, working everywhere from the charity’s 30 shops and warehouse, to the hospice’s ward, supporting families.
For Simon Barnes, from Boldmere, volunteering for St Giles as a driver is the best thing he has done in the five years since wife Tracey died. Tracey was supported by St Giles Hospice when she was diagnosed and treated for her cancer.
Now Simon volunteers as a driver transporting patients to and from the Day Hospice at Whittington and to activities at the Lindridge Road centre in Sutton Coldfield.
“It really gives me a sense of purpose and wellbeing and I really look forward to the days I volunteer,” he said. “I have a great laugh with the other volunteers and it’s incredibly rewarding to see how much the people on the bus get out of their time at the hospice.”
Former estate agent Simon will soon be taking a few weeks off volunteering, to take on a challenge of a different kind – lacing up his walking boots to complete the Camino De Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage across France and Spain, in aid of St Giles.
Nurse Sue Jenkins retired to Fradley when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 50 and decided to volunteer in St Giles’s Day Hospice. Now 13 years later she has returned as a patient and credits the Day Hospice with stopping her giving up after her cancer spread.
She said: “Coming back here has made a huge difference mentally thanks to the great support emotionally.
“It’s been really beneficial to come every week to the Wellbeing day, because I get so much out of it, there’s so much laughter and happiness in the room. It’s helping me to live well with my illness.”
Sue and the other Wellbeing Day visitors are supported by a team of volunteers including Karen Puzey, who started volunteering five years ago.
“We take new people under our wing and show them round, because there’s so much to get involved in, whether that’s crafts, complementary therapy, relaxation, yoga or talks,” said Karen. “It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of the team and no day is ever the same.”
For Liz Jackson, a volunteer at the St Giles shop in Tamworth, getting involved with her local charity has completely turned her life around.
When’s Liz’s partner John died after 40 years together, she didn’t know what to do to start creating a new life for herself.
She said: “I knew I needed to do something and John and I had both received fantastic support through St Giles when he was dying so when I made the decision to start volunteering, St Giles was the first shop I went into.”
“Volunteering in the shop has given me a reason to get up in the morning. I’d tell anyone thinking of volunteering to give it a go, it helps boost your confidence, gets you out of the house and makes you feel part of a community.”
St Giles Volunteering Development Manager Amy Moore said the team continued to grow and there were always new opportunities available for people who want to get involved.
“Volunteers Week is a wonderful chance to celebrate the contribution volunteers make to the hospice, every hour, day and week,” she said.
“We will be thanking our volunteers at a special tea party at the hospice and will be out and about in the community throughout Volunteers Week to share our thanks with the wider community.
“We’d also be delighted to chat to anyone who would like to find out more about volunteering, whether that’s for a few hours at an event or for a more regular commitment as we have a range of role to suit.”
To find out more about volunteering with St Giles, visit www.stgileshospice.com/volunteer to sign up to an open evening, email firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into a shop to find out more.
To support Simon on his challenge visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simonbarnesandthecamino.
PICTURE CAPTION: From left, Simon Barnes, Sue Jenkins, Liz Jackson and Karen Puzey.