From gardening to helping on the ward - so many volunteer roles at hospice

Helen Kingsford is a volunteer at Saint Francis Hospice, Havering-atte-Bower

Helen Kingsford helps promote volunteering by representing Saint Francis Hospice at exhibitions. - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

I began volunteering for Saint Francis Hospice in 2008 after my eldest son died in a traffic accident. I wanted to help somehow, for some worthy cause.

Having visited a patient in the hospice previously I made my choice.

My first role was on the ward one evening a week. I was nervous on my first shift, not knowing how I would feel meeting very ill patients. I needn’t have worried as the atmosphere on the ward was not morose, but uplifting, happy and enlightening!

Later, an opportunity arose for me use the skills I’d attained in my working life. I swapped my ward volunteering to help in the volunteer recruitment department. One day a week I answer enquiries, use computer software to manage volunteers' data, interview potential volunteers and ensure they receive relevant training.

Sometimes I help promote volunteering by representing the hospice at exhibitions. 


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I enjoy meeting people and being able to share my experience of volunteering at the hospice. The opportunity of keeping up to date with computer skills as well as new procedures around recruitment has been exciting and rewarding. I feel part of the recruitment team and, by liaising with staff from other departments who are seeking new volunteers, know that my help has been useful.

Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.

Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower. - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

During Covid-19 things changed dramatically. Necessary safety regulations reduced office space so I now work from home, using remote computer access to the hospice system, to continue contact with potential volunteers and to manage data.

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Continuing with hospice administration has helped me enormously during lockdown. But now I look forward to returning to the hospice again soon and meeting up with my colleagues.

Having experienced both patient-facing and back-office volunteering, I’m aware not everyone would want to do office work, nor would they all want to help on the ward. Which is why the amount of choice on offer at the hospice - from gardening in our award-winning grounds, to driving to collect equipment, to serving in one of our 18 stores or selling goods on eBay – means there is something here for you too.

So why not come and join us.

Check out www.sfh.org.uk/volunteer or ring 01708 753319, or email volunteering@sfh.org.uk

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