Established by St Elizabeth Hospice in 2015, Zest is a scheme which sees the independent Suffolk charity work closely with children’s hospices to ensure young adults have a smooth transition into adult care.
Supporting young adults aged 14 and upwards with progressive and life-limiting illnesses, Zest ensures all the young people, under its care, receive specialist support, tailored treatment and services needed to be able to enjoy life to the full.
Currently 36 young people and 124 family members utilise Zest’s services. From its industry unique Short Breaks, which allows young people to take time out from their daily routine and provides vital respite for families, through to its parent support group and monthly X-Change evening social group for patients, Zest enables young adults with challenging conditions to fulfil their aspirations.
More than 1,500 volunteers generously give their time to support Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice. These volunteers provide support in many ways, including working in the Zest retail shop, in Ipswich, or by working alongside Zest staff in supporting young adults at X-Change evenings and weekend drop in sessions.
One Zest volunteer is 20-year-old Ben Brown, a student at Suffolk One, who has become a familiar face to many customers visiting the Zest shop in Ipswich, during the summer of 2022.
“I have been volunteering one day a week at Zest as part of our work experience programme at college,” explained Ben, who lives in Bentley.
“It has been very rewarding and I have learnt lots of news skills from Lucy and her team. They have a great team ethos at Zest which has been brilliant to be a part of.”
Volunteering sees supporters donate any amount of time they are able to do so, with Ben having flexibility to continue his studies and enjoy his hobbies – such as socialising with friends, volunteering at Ipswich Transport Museum and playing sport – while still volunteering for Zest.
A typical day volunteering for Zest sees Ben helping with opening up the store, organising donations, steaming clothes, working on tills and helping customers.
He added: “Any amount of time you are able to give while volunteering is really appreciated by the team. Volunteering at Zest has been good, because it has given me an insight into working life and helped me understand a little more about what job I would like to do in the future. I have really enjoyed the experience.
“When I first started I felt nervous but everyone at Zest is so friendly and quickly made me feel at home. The whole experience has been very rewarding and I would recommend volunteering at Zest to anyone, as it is a great way of developing your own skills, while also supporting such an important local charity.”
To learn more about volunteering opportunities at Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/support-us/support-us/volunteer-for-us/.
To find out further about Zest visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/about-us/about-us/zest.