TWO hundred volunteers who provide care and support to people with end-of-life illnesses have been thanked by an Ulverston hospice.
Ahead of next week's Volunteers’ Week, (June 1 to 7) St Mary's Hospice is appaluding the unsung work of those giving up their time to help patients and staff.
One of its scheme's, Hospice Neighbours, is also recruiting volunteers in Ulverston and the South Lakes from Monday June 2 to Friday June 6 at St Mary's Hospice shops in Ulverston and Grange.
And some of those involved have been speaking about their roles and urging others to do the same.
From helping out at the hospice's Orangery Cafe, to providing transport for patients or assisting with fundraising events, volunteers carry out a huge variety of roles to keep St Mary's functioning, said staff.
Urswick's Calum Winder, 17, started volunteering at St Mary's earlier this year.
A Sixth Form student at Chetwynde School in Barrow, he hopes to study medicine at university.
He said: “I thought that volunteering at St Mary's would be a good way to get some experience and also have a positive influence on the community."
While Calum started off working a morning shift every fortnight at the hospice charity shop in Dalton, he recently started helping out in the cafe and also helps to prepare and deliver patients' meals on its Inpatient Unit once a week.
While it's quite a time commitment for the busy student, he says that volunteering at the hospice is genuinely 'a highlight of the week'.
"I really enjoy the variety of the work and working on the Inpatient Unit has also given me an insight into the care the hospice offers and I have been very impressed by the high level of personal care patients get."
While still a teenager, he is in a minority when it comes to working at St Mary's, but says: "I would definitely encourage other young people to get involved with volunteering. It is different to paid work and very rewarding, you just don't realise how much, until you give it a go.”
Mary Barton, 64, a retired nurse from Ulverston, has been volunteering at St Mary's for two years.
She says: “I retired nine years ago and after my grandkids started school I decided I wanted something to fill my time.”
These days Mary not only works in The Orangery Cafe but is a volunteer bereavement councillor and in November signed up as one of its new Hospice Neighbours.
The service, which launched last year in the Ulverston and South Lakes area, aims to help those who have life-shortening conditions but wish to remain at home.
The volunteer 'neighbours' can offer a friendly face and a helping hand – in a variety of ways, from doing the shopping to walking the dog...
In her role as a hospice neighbour, Mary visits 75-year-old Norma Jamieson-Black once a week at her home in Ulverston.
Norma was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 12 years ago and relies on a portable oxygen tank.
Virtually housebound, Norma describes what Mary's weekly visits mean to her: “My condition is 100 per cent terminal, there's no chance of getting better. If you are on your own too much, you have too much time to think, and that's what I like about the Hospice Neighbours.
“While I have wonderful medical support, seeing Mary and having a chat is what was missing for me. She collects my prescriptions, helps around the house and takes me shopping and we have a lot of laughs together. We've become good friends and it is not like Mary's coming to do a service any more.”
For her part, Mary looks forward to seeing Norma each week: “We are both quite straight talking and we got on straight away.”
Norma added: “The Neighbours service has really opened my eyes to what a hospice is – it is not just somewhere you go to die.”
Anyone who would like to find out more about volunteering roles at St Mary's, the hospice will have a presence at a Volunteer Recruitment Event at Hawcoat Park Sports & Social Club, Barrow on Thursday June 5 from 2-4pm.
Next week, its shops on Ulverston and Grange will have a window display with more information about the service.
You can find out what it is like to be a Hospice Neighbour by meeting and talking to a volunteer Neighbour in Grange on Wednesday June 4 and Friday June 6 from 1.30pm to 3.30pm or in Ulverston on Wednesday June 4 and Thursday June 5 between 10.30am and 12.30pm
For more information on volunteering call Sandra Brown or Catherine Sullivan on 01229 580305 or email email@example.com
For more information about Neighbours call Anne Atkinson on 01229 580305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org