Making a real Difference
5th October, 2023
“We couldn’t run the hospice without our volunteers. They are absolutely crucial to what we do here,” says Les Bourgs Hospice Volunteer Co-Ordinator Lara Higgins.
Lara says the hospice is extremely lucky to have attracted so many kind, empathetic people to help run this vital local charity but they are always looking for more islanders to put their names forward.
“We currently have around 130 volunteers, which may sound like a lot, but to maintain our standards of care and continue to raise the funds required to run the hospice we need lots of support. Volunteers go on holiday, they may retire or only be with us for a short stint while looking for employment, so we are always looking to attract new helpers.
“Whatever time people can offer us we are very appreciative of. Some can only give us one hour a week whereas some can give a lot more. It really does vary considerably, and their contribution must be appropriate for how they live their daily lives, so we are always flexible and will discuss what hours they can give.”
Shop volunteers help once or twice a week for two-hour shifts. They serve customers, sort donations, and undertake general shop duties. Glennys de Jersey started volunteering 14 and a half years ago at the dedicated children’s shop in St Sampson’s which is now in St Martin’s: “We are blessed to have this magnificent hospice here in Guernsey. Everyone, whether they are a paid member of staff or a volunteer, is proud to ‘do their bit’. I have made some great friends and really enjoy meeting the public. I find it very rewarding and I hope I have the health and strength to carry on for a few more years yet.”
Volunteer roles are varied and also include working on reception, fundraising or supporting the nursing team with the In-Patient Unit and supper duty.
“We welcome people from all backgrounds and no experience or qualifications are required as training will be given,” says Lara.
“What is important is that our volunteers are empathetic, kind and understand the importance of confidentiality. The big surprise for most of our volunteers is how fulfilling and fun volunteering can be. Some imagine the hospice to be a sad place to work but that is not the case at all. Each volunteer is different and brings their own personality and unique set of skills which can enhance the care we give, as well as help to create a great atmosphere to work in.”
Reception volunteers greet visitors when they arrive and receive incoming calls. The desk is ‘manned’ between 9am and 5pm and volunteers provide cover in two-hour shifts.
IPU volunteers come to the hospice once each week from 9am to 11am to assist with tasks such as tidying up, re-stocking the kitchen, taking patient’s menu choices, offering refreshments, and assisting with laundry.
Volunteers are crucial in providing light suppers each evening, making sandwiches, soups, salads, and omelettes, then serving and clearing away afterwards.
“Being a supper volunteer is such a rewarding experience,” says Lara. “I love getting an empty plate back from a patient who didn’t fancy eating at all but who has been tempted by my suggestion and has enjoyed their meal.”
Margaret Waters has volunteered at Les Bourgs for 22 years: “It’s such a good cause, we all want to give something back to our community. I really wanted to do it and I have loved every minute as there is genuine camaraderie here.”
Lara is keen to attract volunteers from across the age range.
“We got to know Alisha Pipet in 2020 when she was 12 and at St Sampson’s High School. With a team of classmates, she chose to make dog leads out of recycled fire hoses and they made a large donation from what they earned to the hospice.
“Alisha then did part of her Duke of Edinburgh Scheme with us every week at the shop. She is now a paid member of staff on a Saturday but still donates one hour free as a volunteer.”
Rodney Clough has been involved as a volunteer since January 2012 and has had numerous roles.
"I got involved with Les Bourgs Hospice sometime after my retirement as I thought they may be able to use me somehow. After contacting the Volunteer Co-ordinator I had an interview on 17th January 2012 and started preparing lunches on a Tuesday and found it to be a very rewarding job. Being in engineering all my life it was somewhat different.
I continued and became a Committee Member for the Friends and got involved with lots of fundraising with my wife Sandra, including purchasing a BBQ which I used at many events raising much-needed funds for the hospice.
I was also involved with the £1m lottery which was a lot of hard work but also really good fun.
I continued with the Friends for a couple of years then moved to other areas such as recycling for the hospice and the shop in St Martins, a very worthwhile job. I also handle all the collections of supplies for the ward, another crucial job.
Getting involved with Les Bourgs Hospice has been amazing, meeting so many people over the past 11 years has been great and I will continue to help out as long as I can - age permitting. I thoroughly recommend anyone with a bit of spare time to get involved, you will be amazed what you can achieve.
Hospice Director Jo Boyd MBE says the long-serving volunteers are such great champions of the work undertaken at Les Bourgs: “It’s not just the vital work such as reception duties, answering phones, raising money, and doing the washing up that is so important. It’s that everyone brings their heart with them each time they come to help.”
To become a volunteer contact Lara Higgins on 210327 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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