Jayne's Hospice Volunteering Story

“After working as a nurse for 35 years, I didn’t know what to do. I would often visit the hospice shop in Wickham Market to purchase items and then when I learnt of the volunteering opportunities available, I decided to give volunteering a go and haven’t looked back since,” explained Jayne Prettyman, assistant retail manager at St Elizabeth Hospice’s Wickham Market shop, who joined the charity as a paid member of staff in March 2022, after seven years of volunteering.

Every year more than 3,000 people living with a progressive or life-limiting illness, and their families, are supported throughout east Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney by the free specialist palliative care provision of St Elizabeth Hospice.

This care is provided by hospice staff who operate throughout the region but who are supported by a fantastic team of volunteers, whose generosity enables St Elizabeth Hospice to continue evolving its services to care for more people in the local community.

Initially volunteering once a week every Wednesday, over the years Jayne picked up more shifts increasing her volunteering to two or three days a week, learning new skills in the process.

“It really did snowball,” Jayne said. “I enjoyed sorting and steaming the clothes and items in the back of the shop but as I did more and more shifts, I gained confidence to work on the tills as well and developed my skillset further.

“I like being challenged and volunteering for St Elizabeth Hospice gave me the opportunity to take on challenges at a pace that was comfortable for me but also allowed me to develop myself.

“This has ultimately seen me become assistant retail manager at the Wickham Market shop as well as serving as relief manager for many hospice shops across the region – which gives me great variety and enjoyment.

“I really was never expecting to go from volunteering to an employed role but when the opportunity arose I couldn’t turn it down, as I enjoy being involved in the hospice so much.

“Whether that is interacting with customers and getting to know people within my local community or making sure the shop looks as good as it can be, through to supporting new volunteers – my role is very diverse and all stems from my decision to begin volunteering back in 2015.

“I always found the team to be supportive and flexible with my shifts when I was a volunteer, which was so important to me as it enabled me to still enjoy my many hobbies such as dog walking, spending time with friends and family as well as morris dancing.

“When I first began volunteering I didn’t realise the transferrable skills I had from my previous working life – such as organisation and communication – could benefit the charity. It’s true, everyone really does has something to offer which could support the hospice.

“There are so many positives you get from volunteering, as well as supporting such a fantastic local cause, you can meet new friends and it really helps with mental health and wellbeing. I even had the pleasure of being alongside volunteers who have used the skills they have gained to help with obtaining full-time employment.

“Similar to many people in Suffolk, I have a personal connection to the hospice with my in-laws receiving support from the hospice community team. To be able to give back to this service in some way through volunteering and now through working for the charity, is a real privilege.

“My sister-in-law described the hospice services as ‘a miracle and a 24/7 source of guidance and reassurance’ and she is completely correct, and I am proud to be a part of St Elizabeth Hospice.

“When people donate items to our shops, volunteer their time or support our fundraising events, they really are making a big difference to a vital service for so many people in their local community and it is greatly appreciated.

“Volunteering for the hospice is something I would recommend to everyone. It provides you with an opportunity to challenge and develop yourself while supporting a fantastic local charity.

“I wasn’t looking for a way back into employment but volunteering gave me this opportunity and it is something I am very grateful for.”

To learn more about volunteering opportunities at St Elizabeth Hospice email volunteer@stelizabethhospice.org.uk or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/support-us/support-us/volunteer-for-us/.

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