This Valentine’s Day St Clare Hospice in Essex is showing its love for the more than 500 volunteers who give their time to lend a hand to their cause, from supporting nursing staff on the Inpatient Unit to assisting in the finance team and helping to maintain the hospice gardens. Here they share the story of Tony Shattock, who will celebrate 12 years of volunteering at the charity this year.
“Everything I do at St Clare, I do for the patients and the families” Tony says. “My role here is as volunteer receptionist; every other Wednesday morning, I come to the hospice to meet and greet people who are visiting.
“As a receptionist, you are dealing with so many different things. It certainly keeps your brain active! It can be very busy at times, with meetings, deliveries, and people visiting their relatives. I also try to give people the information they need about the hospice and accessing our services, which feels like I am helping to get them the support they need.”
“I feel that the role of a volunteer receptionist is very important, because we are the first port-of-call for people visiting, often giving them a first impression of the hospice – and many people can feel anxious about coming to visit.”
“As part of my role, I assist people who are visiting the hospice in finding where they need to go. Sometimes, I’ll walk people over to the Inpatient Unit, or to Day Therapy, helping people to sign-in too, if needed.”
“We really do always try to go the extra mile to help and assist people and they are so thankful for our support. It’s so rewarding to see the difference you’re making, but also, I know what it’s like to be in their shoes.”
In 1996, Tony’s late wife, Janet, used the Day Therapy services at the hospice, just six years after the charity was founded.
“Back then, St Clare was just a house!” Tony recalls. “Janet enjoyed coming to Day Therapy at St Clare, because she could meet other people who were experiencing similar things to her. After she passed in 1999, I came back to the hospice to volunteer with the Day Therapy team about five years later.
“After that, I volunteered within the hospice’s retail team – and I’ve always lent a hand at fundraising events as a marshal, when I can. However, I’ve been a volunteer receptionist for nine years, and I feel like I’ve found my niche!”
St Clare’s Voluntary Services Manager, Rob Wallace, who recruits and manages the hospice’s team of 500 volunteers, recognises the important role they play.
“It is with the support of people like Tony that St Clare Hospice is able to offer its compassionate care to the people of West Essex and East Herts,” Rob says.
“Without our volunteers, we couldn’t run our shops; keep our gardens tidy and full of life; support relatives who have lost a loved one at St Clare; and run our reception desk, like Tony does. There are dozens upon dozens of support roles that are filled by dedicated local people on a voluntary basis here at St Clare.”
“That’s why we ‘love’ our volunteers. Here at St Clare, every one of us has a passion and dedication to ensuring that everyone in West Essex and East Herts has access to the support they need. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, and continue working towards that goal.”
The partnership between St Clare and its volunteers is mutually beneficial. Tony added:
“Volunteering also helps me to put things into perspective in my own life. It helps me to reflect on thing. I also get a lot of job satisfaction; it’s rewarding and emotional. I volunteer for the people who come to St Clare. If I can do my little bit, then I will.”
To read Tony’s full story, visit St Clare Hospice