Andrea Wise has been volunteering with The J’s Hospice since 2004; she started as a general volunteer, but now also goes out into the community as a Community Ambassador. Here Andrea explains why she chose to volunteer for The J’s and what she likes about her role.
"I first volunteered for The J’s Hospice - which supports young adults with life-limiting conditions and their families across Essex both in their homes and in the community - once my daughters went to university. I had been a childminder, caterer and very much a stay at home mum up to that point, and although I already knew the founder, Denise Whiffin, I hadn’t realised just how little support there had been available to her and her family when they were looking after their son, Jonathon, who had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and passed away when he was just 18.
"I was at the supermarket one day and a woman in front of me in the queue was talking about how she had just started to volunteer for The J’s and by the time I left the shop I knew I would be volunteering too.
"When I originally got involved no one in our family had been affected by a potentially life limiting or terminal illness, but a few years ago my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and It suddenly made me realise how fortunate I was that there was now a service available to me if I needed it.
"I have two roles – one as a Patron and one as a general volunteer and the latter means I get to do all sorts of different things. It could be anything from packing 1000 bags for runners, giving out bananas and water at the finish line of the marathon or helping out with the refreshments at a Church service at Christmas. My husband and myself have a collection point at our local gym for items we can sell at our charity shop and do three trips there a week – we’re always looking for people to do the odd collection for us as back up. It’s made a real difference too and increased the takings at the shop by £100 a day.
"As an ambassador I go out and give talks to groups such as the WI, Rotary Clubs and Townswomen’s Guilds – they could be a full 45-minute speech or a three minute thank you for a cheque. The J’s has helped train and encourage me in public speaking, and as well as that I’ve become even more passionate about the charity as I’ve spent more time working for them.
"One of the things I really like about working for The J’s is its flexibility. I tell them it doesn’t matter how often they ask me, I’ll do what I can. I can do half of what they ask, but they always fit me in and accommodate my availability. Personally, I can’t commit to regular hours, but there are people who can, and the charity works for all of us. You aren’t signing your life away, you only committing to what suits you, even if its when you have a spare hour or so. You can also meet lovely people, broaden your friendship group, and feel a part of society."
For more information and to learn more about our Volunteer opportunities, please click here