Hospice charity says ‘Thank you’ to volunteers assisting those in need during the pandemic

A hospice volunteer offering support during the Coronavirus pandemic says her role has been ‘humbling’ and given a ‘sense of purpose.’

During Volunteers Week, Havens Hospices is thanking all those who are still able to carry out their volunteering duties during the outbreak, and those whose roles are currently on hold until it’s safe to return.

The charity has over 900 volunteers who help in a diverse range of roles, from fundraising to working in our charity shops, however with shops closed and events cancelled, many of these roles have now stopped.

During the current pandemic, one of the roles that has continued to function is counselling and supportive care. Samantha McDonald is a Counsellor who volunteers within the charity’s Wellbeing Team, providing help and advice over the phone.

The 43 year old has a wealth of experience in counselling especially working with those living with mental health conditions and addiction. Samantha runs a small private practice in Southend but with a special interest in palliative care and bereavement she decided to sign up to volunteer with Havens Hospices after a colleague encouraged her.

She said, “Although I run my own practice, volunteering is still just as important to me.  I have always volunteered in some capacity and started 10 years ago working at the Trinity Family Centre in Westcliff, supporting parents and carers. Whilst I attended university, I really missed being a volunteer and ‘giving back’ to my community so I applied to become a volunteer at Havens Hospices and the rest is history.”

Samantha, who lives in Southend, says the last couple of months during the pandemic has been a particularly worrying time for the people under the charity’s care but by providing counselling to those who need it over the phone, it has been as beneficial as it would have been face-to-face.

She said, “The last couple of months have been challenging but my primary concern has been maintaining a sense of continuity and stability for my clients. I have noticed an increase in anxiety surrounding their circumstances and how the Coronavirus might affect them. But telephone counselling has been just as effective as face-to-face – many of my clients were concerned that they would have been ‘cut off’ from support as lockdown progressed and were relieved we could offer telephone or digital support.”

She added, “Being able to continue to support my clients during lockdown has humbled me and given me a sense of purpose. Just being able to help, even in the smallest of ways makes volunteering so worthwhile. Havens Hospices is such a nurturing and supportive environment for volunteers and the training they provide is some of the best I’ve received.”

Faye Kadesh, Volunteer Services Manager at Havens Hospices says, “Our hospice care can only exist because of the support and generosity of our volunteers and the role our Counsellors play is especially vital during these current times.  All our volunteers play an important role to keep the hospice running, whether that is assisting with housekeeping, working on reception, or cooking meals for our patients – each role whatever it is, makes a huge difference.

“All of our volunteers still continue to show their support for us every day and we can’t wait to welcome them all back across the charity when it is safe to do so.”

The volunteers at Havens Hospices come from all walks of life and ages and achieve extraordinary things. The charity will be looking to recruit more volunteers once its fundraising events are up and running again and shops reopen.  To find out how to play a vital role in helping ‘Making every day count’ for the people the hospice cares for, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/volunteering

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Samantha McDonald volunteers at home