This week (1-7 June 2020) is Volunteers’ Week, so we would like to take this opportunity to thank all Katharine House Hospice volunteers for everything they do, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It’s been such a difficult time and many of our volunteers have had to shield themselves due to their age and underlying health conditions or because they are shielding someone else. 

However, during the pandemic we have seen those volunteers who are still able to support us taking on new challenges, for which we’re very grateful. 

The bereavement team volunteers have continued to support existing clients and have extended their reach into supporting new clients in new ways through telephone contact and virtual platforms. The team are currently meeting the increasing number of clients who need bereavement support at this particularly difficult time with flexibility and dedication. 

Many of our existing ward clerks and catering volunteers have retrained as receptionists and we have also welcomed ne

w volunteers from the community, such as Registered General Nurses, healthcare assistants, family liaison support and housekeepers.

Receptionists who had a nursing background have also gone back to the ward as healthcare assistants, including Judy, who said: ‘I have been working at Katharine House as a volunteer receptionist for almost three years and it is very fulfilling.

'As a retired nurse, when an email arrived asking for more nurses, as the hospice prepared for Covid and it's possible ramifications, I felt very much I should help. I volunteered as a healthcare assistant. My first shift was to be a night shift and I admit I was very nervous. Not only was it over 40 years since I had worked a night shift, I also had to cope with assisting the nurses to care for patients with Covid. On my way to work that night I realised I could still enjoy the work and indeed I did.’

Other recent acts of kindness from our volunteers include the many knitted and crocheted teddy bears and hearts that have been donated to the hospice, carer packages, IT equipment, homemade cakes and personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment. 

Volunteers in Living Well

Living Well volunteers are a fundamental part of the Living Well team and invaluable to the running of the many creative and supportive activities we offer. They bring with them experience and skills that range from hospitality to complementary therapy and help with bathing; our driving volunteers bring our patients in to sessions safely and take them home again after, and we have volunteers who lead the arts and crafts sessions, as well as creative writing, mindfulness and family history.

All of these activities came to an abrupt end in mid-March when we had to suspend all Living Well services and adapt to new ways of working. Since then, our volunteers have been supporting the Living Well response to the current pandemic crisis in the following ways:

  • The Volunteer Chaplain supports a group of patients pastorally and spiritually through weekly phone calls.  
  • Volunteer artists are exploring ways of offering our service users regular art projects and how these might continue to provide creative opportunities for people through this process.  
  • A fortnightly Newsletter has been published since the suspension of Living Well face-face contact in March, and includes a quiz and a creative element. Both pieces are written by volunteers, and another volunteer writes a blog on behalf of Bertie the ‘Pat Dog’ she would normally bring in weekly to Living Well and who has become a great friend to so many.

And as we plan for new Living Well activities over the coming weeks we know we will be drawing upon the services, time and skills of our volunteers further, as we seek to continue to support our patients and their families from a distance.

Volunteers in our shops

We are set for huge challenges around the reopening of our charity shops in the coming weeks. Our shop volunteers, who play such a vital role in the running of our shops, are being contacted and we look forward to welcoming as many as are currently able to return, back to the shop floor.

A huge thank you!

We miss all of our volunteers and we are grateful for all the messages of support, encouragement and love that we have received over the past weeks, as we have all done our best to adapt to new ways of working in very challenging circumstances - and an altogether new way of life.