Ray's Hospice Volunteering Story

“Through volunteering I’ve met many new friends, and even met some old friends I had lost touch with, such is the warm, close knit nature of the hospice,” explains Ray Squirrell, who has been volunteering at St Elizabeth Hospice, since October 2022, as a gardener and at some of the many events held by the charity.

Every year more than 4,000 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 Ray, whose generosity enables St Elizabeth Hospice to continue evolving its services to care for more people in the local community.

Ray, who is from Ipswich, said: “My partner received pain relief support from the hospice at home, until her death, and St Elizabeth Hospice has just been fantastic to me and my family. I found the hospice’s counselling support service and its bereavement support walking group, Walk On, to be of great help to me.

“After a bereavement, you are left wondering how you will get through, but the hospice counselling team were there for me. I decided I wanted to give back to them, to show how grateful I was and they explained I could speak with the hospice’s volunteering team about opportunities they may have.

“I love being outdoors and have many years’ experience working as a groundsman, so we quickly decided supporting with the upkeep and maintenance of the hospice garden would be ideal for me.

“I have actually found volunteering has helped me through some difficult times, especially as gardening and being outdoors can be so therapeutic.

“Normally, I volunteer once a week at the hospice and I always look forward to volunteering. During my toughest times, volunteering was a real highlight for me every week. It is just so nice to be in such a warm, friendly environment as the hospice and to use my skills and experience to help this brilliant cause.

“Volunteering in the hospice garden sees us doing general maintenance, tidying up, preparing flower beds, planting new flowers and even vegetables for patients, families and staff alike to enjoy.

“The hospice garden is a very special space and means a lot to so many people and I feel quite privileged to be in a position where I can volunteer my skills to contribute to such a peaceful environment.

“We often receive lovely comments from patients and families about what the garden means to them and how it brings a sense of calm during difficult periods they are going through. We even have the chance to chat with patients, and it gives me a real sense of pride to help in any way I can.

“As well as volunteering as a gardener, I have also volunteered at the hospice’s Midnight Walk, Classics at Glemham and at the Ipswich Half Marathon to help with fundraising for the charity.

“Volunteering really is full of possibilities and everybody has a skill which can be of great benefit. In fact, I have recommended volunteering to a number of my friends and I would encourage others to pick up the phone to the St Elizabeth Hospice volunteer team and just give it a try.

“It really is worthwhile and can have such a positive impact on your own life, while also helping others in your local community.”

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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