Volunteers’ Week: Judith and Jackie’s Stories

Categories: Care and People & Places.
If, as the poem goes, it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to care for people at the end of their lives. To help us (St Christopher’s Hospice) to care for more than 8,000 people every year we rely on the incredible skills, generosity and dedication of our amazing 1,070 volunteers.

They perform a huge range of crucial roles – serving customers in our busy high street shops, tending our beautiful gardens in Sydenham, baking cakes, being a bereavement buddy or helping out in our spa. That’s just a tiny taster of the array of opportunities and whichever ones best match your skills will almost certainly require less of your precious time than you think.

It being Volunteers’ Week we wanted to take the chance to thank all 1,070 of our terrific team for their priceless contribution to our work. Collectively, our tireless team members like Jacky Norman and Judith Freeborn dedicate more than 160,000 hours a year.

Judith is a great example of someone using more than one skill to support our work. As well as leaning on her nursing training to help out on the inpatient unit, she also spends time on reception, welcoming visitors to the hospice. She sees it as a privilege to help people overcome their nervousness and preconceptions when they arrive.

“You can almost feel their relief that you are friendly and with a big smile you take their hands and physically take them to wherever they need to go,” Judith adds.

Equally, time spent with people at the end of their lives on the ward leaves Judith feeling a real sense of purpose.

“Sometimes we might sit with a patient for their final breath which is something very special to do, so it’s a very special role.”

“I never leave a shift without knowing that I have made a difference to somebody, if not to quite a few people.”

For Jacky, the urge to volunteer came four years into retirement with the sense that she wanted to do more for the local community. Like Judith, she’s enjoying it so much she’s just taken on a second role.

Having started out in our Beckenham shop in 2020, Jackie’s just starting as a bereavement buddy.

“I was looking for something to do and I love charity shops. I went in there one day and I was chatting to the manager and asked if they wanted any volunteers, and she said yes! I started and I am part of a lovely team. I love it. I am on the till, so I get to interact with customers. Who knew, I’m actually quite good and really enjoy it.”

A typical day sees Jacky start at 9am and combine a mixture of advising, interacting with and selling to customers. She also helps make the shop front look attractive to help entice people in.

Jacky’s been impressed with the help and support she’s received, preparing for her second role, as a bereavement buddy which will see her paired with someone who has recently been or is about to be bereaved.

“I have had some fantastic training and the ladies who co-ordinate and run it are so supportive. We also have development meetings with the other buddies to discuss our experiences and knowledge.

“The best thing about volunteering is you feel like you are part of something bigger, helping to support people and contributing to such a great cause.”

With research showing that people who volunteer also live longer, more fulfilled and purposeful lives, what are you waiting for? Follow Judith and Jacky’s incredible lead – start by checking out all the current volunteering vacancies and get in touch now.


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