“Helping a charity that supports local people in your area is very important. Any support you give makes a big difference and you can see the impact this has through people you know and meet in your community,” said Matt Girt, who has been a St Elizabeth Hospice volunteer since 2010.
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, like Matt, whose generosity enables St Elizabeth Hospice to continue evolving its services to care for more people in the local community.
“I began volunteering when I was working at Willis (in Ipswich) and there was a campaign which saw Willis staff donate items to St Elizabeth Hospice’s Dog’s Head Street shop,” explained Matt.
“The hospice visited us and gave a presentation, explaining what the hospice does in the community and after the presentation I spoke to their team to see if they would be interested in volunteers as well and I have not looked back since – it’s really snowballed from there.
“Over the last ten years or so, I have consistently volunteered at Dog’s Head Street retail shop, but I have also volunteered as a marshal at the hospice’s Midnight Walk, given my time to the Big Hoot Ipswich 2022 art trail and during the pandemic I helped deliver medical supplies from the hospice’s Hub to healthcare providers across the region – my volunteering experience has been diverse to say the least.”
Matt has taken part in a variety of volunteering roles at the hospice but his core role, as a retail assistant at Dog’s Head Street shop, sees him serving on the till, helping keep the shop tidy, replenishing stock and interacting with customers.
He said: “No two days are identical when volunteering for the hospice, they are similar so you gain confidence with jobs to do, but there are always new things to learn and new people to meet.
“I work full-time, so mainly I volunteer at weekends, but the hospice team are so accommodating and help me be flexible with my time. You give as much as you can or want to, and this is always appreciated by the hospice.
“Before I started volunteering, I didn’t know anybody who had used their services. However, since then, I have known family and friends who have received such brilliant support from the hospice. It’s such a special and personal organisation and events such as Suffolk Remembers and Midnight Walk really highlight that, as the hospice joins with the community to remember loved ones no longer with us.
“To have the opportunity to be a part of such an organisation is very important to me. The hospice is like one big family and through volunteering I have learnt new skills but also learnt how skills I already have can benefit the hospice.
“I would recommend volunteering at the hospice to everyone. It is really worth giving it a go, maybe trying a taster volunteering shift, you never know it could be the best thing you’ve ever done.”
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/.