The Covid-19 outbreak has meant that many hospice staff members have been redeployed into new roles, and frontline staff have had to dramatically change the way they work, often putting their safety and health at great risk. Meanwhile, with shops and cafes closed, many volunteers suddenly became at risk of isolation.
To address the needs of some of their 900 volunteers, St Catherine’s Hospice in Preston launched a food delivery service for those who weren’t able to get to the shops. One of their volunteers who is 80 years old, tells us: “At the start of all of this I saw on the news that people were panic buying. I managed to do a shop before the lockdown but I just kept thinking, ‘how on Earth am I going to get food in the future?’
“I live alone and most of my family live a considerable distance away; I was starting to feel fairly desperate. All my life I have tried to do what I can to help others, and now I feel utterly dependant. There were no slots available for internet shopping and I was really starting to worry.
“Then Cheryl from the St Catherine’s support team contacted me about the new food delivery service they were providing for volunteers who need it, and it felt like a miracle. It is such a kind gesture and so vital for me at this time. I am very grateful.
“I put an order in every fortnight and it just makes such a difference; the fact that the hospice is there for me when I need them is just amazing, it’s really wonderful. I’d like to let them know how thankful I am.”
The hospice has been receiving weekly food donations from an anonymous sponsor through the charity Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, which is helping to provide orders for the scheme.
Additionally members of staff at the hospice have been keeping in regular contact with volunteers, especially with those who are socially isolated.
Cheryl Scott, Support Team Manager at St Catherine’s, said: “St Catherine’s simply wouldn’t be here without the unwavering commitment and generosity of our fantastic volunteers, who give their time to support our important work in a wide range of roles.
“For some it’s a very different way of volunteering as most of them can’t undertake their usual roles and we know that some are finding it difficult because they still want to help. Volunteering also keeps people busy and offers the opportunity to socialise and meet new people, so it’s a very tough time.
“Our priority is that our volunteers stay safe, and now is our chance to be there for them as they have so selflessly been here for us over the years. We want to do what we can to help their mental wellbeing as well as offer practical support where we can.
“We’re keeping in touch and reaching out, and our catering team from The Mill are putting food orders together and delivering them to our most isolated and vulnerable volunteers.”
For more information visit St Catherine’s Hospice