“You can see the difference nurses make to patients and their families every day, and to know by volunteering you are helping the staff do their job, is a fantastic feeling,” explained Kevin Constance who has been volunteering at St Elizabeth Hospice since 2011.
From volunteering in the kitchen, helping with fundraising events through to volunteering at St Elizabeth Hospice’s reception, Kevin Constance has been a dedicated supporter of the Suffolk charity for more than ten years and understands well the variety of experiences volunteering at the hospice can bring.
He is one of more than 1,500 volunteers who generously give their time to support the hospice by carrying out roles in one of its 31 retail shops, through to volunteering on the hospice inpatient unit and supporting the hospice administrative teams.
Every year their support helps the hospice deliver specialist palliative care to more than 3,000 people living with a progressive or life-limiting illness, and their families, throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.
“I first became aware of the hospice 20 years ago when the hospice cared for my mother-in-law during her last days. I knew then that in the future I would like to give back to the hospice team, as the care they gave her was something like I had never seen before,” said Kevin.
“I began by volunteering in the kitchen and did five years there on Saturdays, cleaning and helping prepare the food. I even learnt new recipes from the chefs in the process, which has pleased my wife as I now love doing the cooking at home!
“After a while I wanted to get involved in other areas of the organisation and began volunteering on the Midnight Walk, Christmas Day Dip and other fundraising events. A few years later the team told me there was a volunteering opportunity available on the hospice reception.
“I gave it a go, although I had no previous experience of a desk job before, and I have not looked back since and its one of the best moves I have made, as I love it.
“Being on reception is an important role as you get to see so many people but also because for many visitors you are the first person they see when they come to the hospice, so it’s important you welcome them and make them they feel reassured; something which I take great pride in doing for St Elizabeth Hospice.”
Volunteering sees supporters donate any amount of time they are able to do so. As part of Kevin’s role, he volunteers two days a week, picking up extra shifts when he can, to support the team.
He added: “I get such a buzz when I wake up in the morning and put my hospice badge on ahead of a shift. It is a fantastic place to be and I have made so many friends, both staff and volunteers, all of whom are so encouraging and supportive.
“Knowing the impact the hospice has on so many people in the local community inspires me every day and to see the continuous community support for the hospice is absolutely brilliant and you know you are supporting a special organisation.
“Before the Christmas Day Dip or the Midnight Walk I get so excited and can’t wait for the events to start. I am so passionate about the hospice and never tire of telling people of the great work it does and I am proud to play my role in helping the team. The place is full of laughter and smiles, both of which are the best of medicines in my opinion.
“If anybody was considering volunteering I would tell them not to hesitate and give it a try.There are loads of roles you can do and everyone has a skill which could help the hospice. It costs you nothing, only a few hours of your time that you are able to give, and you get to meet new people, learn new skills and it is good for your mental health.
“The hospice has become such a big part of my life and during the pandemic, when I was unable to volunteer, I really did miss being a part of the hospice on a regular basis. I have volunteered here for ten years now and I hope to be here in ten years’ time still supporting St Elizabeth Hospice.”
To learn more about volunteering opportunities at St Elizabeth Hospice email email@example.com or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/support-us/support-us/volunteer-for-us/.