The annual ‘Volunteer Oscars’, fondly known as the VOSCARS, celebrated the work of 30 volunteers who have stacked up 415 years of service between them at the hospice.
The volunteers work in a variety of roles at Bristol’s only adult hospice, from helping out at the fundraising office to offering bereavement support.
And the event, which coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Bristol-based hospice, presented an opportunity to acknowledge their worth in terms of their gift of time, skills and commitment, as well as the financial dimension – estimated by the hospice be worth £1.4 million per annum.
St Peter’s Hospice CEO, Simon Caraffi, presented the awards that recognise the unique contributions each volunteer makes. He said: “St Peter’s Hospice enjoys the active support of hundreds of fantastic volunteers who help out in just about every area of our work.
“The award ceremony meant we were able to thank our volunteers and celebrate their wonderful contribution by recognising their service. They are a humbling example to the community of people willing to give their time freely to help others and I am extremely grateful to them for all that they do.”
More than 200 staff and volunteers attended the glittering event, which took place on the 7 November 2013 at the BAWA club and honoured volunteers with 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of service.
“There was even an extra special award for 30 years of service to the hospice,” said Jenni Travers, head of volunteer services at St Peter’s Hospice.
“Without our team of amazing volunteers we would not be able to operate as we do and help so many people every year in the city. From offering their valuable time to giving us the benefit of their specialist skills, such as complementary therapy, hairdressing and gardening, the volunteers are invaluable to both staff and patients alike,” she added.
Recognition for 30 years of service went to Peter Galton, from Henleaze, who has been supporting the fundraising team and helping to organise the annual Christmas Bazaar since its inception.
Jenni continued: “The amount of time Peter has given up for the hospice just goes to show how passionate local people are about the charity. They are the backbone of the organisation and allow us to continue offering such a high standard of care.”
Value of volunteers
Writing for ehospice recently, Dr Ros Scott considered the value of volunteers.
She cites the The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care 2012 report, that recognises that volunteers have a key role to play in hospices in the future. It said: “We urge hospices, their representative organisations and those with influence in the health and social care world to acknowledge the value of volunteering in hospice care as a means of developing and improving care at the end of life.”
Dr Scott also identified that hospices need to collect and share more data:
“This must include our voluntary services,” she wrote. “Do we monitor and evaluate our volunteering programmes? Do we know what impact they make on our organisations? Do we know how they contribute to the development of our services and that of our local communities?
“Do we measure the economic value of the time and skills donated? Or do we just say “we couldn’t do it without our volunteers” – at best an empty statement and at worst patronising – if there is not the evidence to support it and examples to share with our partners, funders and supporters.”
St Peter’s Hospice costs £6.8 million to run each year and therefore volunteer services are essential to keeping the charity going.
Jenni emphasised that the role of volunteers at St Peter’s is continuing to grow with the launch of a hospice neighbour scheme. Speaking to ehospice, she said: “Our Hospice Neighbours Network scheme means that carers and/or patients can refer themselves to Volunteer Resources to be linked with a volunteer – the Hospice Neighbour – who offers practical and social support.”
To find out more about the work of St Peter’s website, visit the website.