National Volunteers’ Week 2024 – celebrating the volunteers keeping St Luke’s services running

Volunteers’ Week 2024

Behind the doors of St Luke’s you will find an intricate web of volunteers keeping our charity running.

This week is Volunteers’ Week (3-9 June), a chance to celebrate the wonderful team of volunteers that keep the cogs of St Luke’s turning. From working in our fleet of shops, to volunteering at our specialist unit, our volunteers are the backbone of our organisation. Below we are sharing some of the fabulous volunteers who work across St Luke’s and celebrating all their hard work.

Meet Aunty Jo – a volunteer in our fundraising and events team

Joanne Warn, or Aunty Jo as she is affectionately known to everyone at St Luke’s, has been volunteering in our Events team for the last few years.

A grandmother of three, 59-year-old Jo lives in Manadon with her husband. Due to having MS Jo had to take early medical retirement, but took it as an opportunity to dedicate her time to doing what she loves, spending time with her grandchildren, painting, crochet, sewing, holidays and of course St Luke’s.

A Jo of all trades

Jo described how she first got involved with St Luke’s. “I started volunteering in July 2021, it’s something I wanted to do since I retired. My niece Rebecca worked in the Events team and approached me to come in and help, hence the Aunty Jo nickname.”

Jo helps out on a Tuesday, giving her time to our busy Events team, in charge of our annual fundraising events including Men’s Day Out, Tour de Moor and Midnight Walk.

From helping to answer phone calls and completing JustGiving admin to sealing hundreds of envelopes or making key chains, Jo has become a Jack of all trades, described by the team as a powerhouse, always going above and beyond for St Luke’s.

The flexibility with the role suits Jo, especially as with her MS she may not always be up to coming in, meaning she can do hours that suit her. Even going one step further and making cakes for our Open Gardens.

‘Working for St Luke’s is a privilege’

Like many of our volunteers, Jo feels that volunteering is her way of saying thank you to St Luke’s.

“Working for St Luke’s I feel is a privilege and I feel like I’m giving something back to the wider community,” she said. “From a personal point of view, we lost our son to a very rare blood cancer ten years ago, and whilst St Luke’s wasn’t part of his care, he received similar in Exeter where he lived. Also, my mother-in-law received wonderful end of life care from the team at St Luke’s.”

Meet Carol and Julie – retail volunteers at St Luke’s at Estover

Our fleet of shops are at the forefront of St Luke’s. Which is why our retail volunteers are such an important bunch.

Carol Miller and Julie Visick have both been volunteering at our Estover shop since it opened 7 years ago. Both women, who live locally, have found that volunteering has opened up a social circle, as well as providing a rewarding way to fill their time.

Shop manager Marie has described how she can rely on them 100%, with them always going above and beyond to help her out.

“I love the shop, it makes me feel useful”, says Julie. “St Luke’s looked after my brother in the hospice. As soon as the shop opened I knocked on the door and Marie welcomed me in and gave me a cup of tea and the rest is history.”

‘One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done’

Prior to St Luke’s, Carol spent 3 years volunteering at Derriford Hospital, getting shopping for the patients, however once her mother died there, she felt she needed a change of scene. So when our Estover store opened 6 months later, it came at the perfect time.

“It is probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done”, says Carol. “I’ve met such a lovely bunch of people that I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t come here. It’s a win-win situation. I’m quite happy to do anything, I like meeting people and talking to customers, we have quite a few regulars now who you get to know.”

‘You look forward to coming to work’

The jewellery in the store has become Julie’s domain and she has enjoyed sorting through it to source any particularly valuable pieces.

“It is mostly costume jewellery”, she says, “but sometimes you find the occasional treasure which means more money for the hospice.”

Both women agree that volunteering for St Luke’s has been the right decision for them and haven’t looked back once.

“We’ve got a lovely little shop here, especially with Marie, we have a laugh. You look forward to coming to work. I’ve been here 7 years since it opened so that must say something about it.”

Meet Caroline – a volunteer ward assistant at our specialist unit at Turnchapel

If you were to step into the doors of our specialist unit at Turnchapel, it is most likely that you would be unaware of the number of people working behind the scenes to keep our care services running.

Caroline Sweet is one of those people. Caroline is one of our volunteer ward assistants, she comes in one day a week to help ensure our wards are running smoothly, so that our nurses can dedicate their time to our patients.

‘I fitted right into it’

Born in Plymouth, Caroline is married with two children. Originally a civil servant, she took early retirement after the pressures of working during Covid combined with health issues took their toll. “I realised the job wasn’t what I signed up for years ago. So I thought, you know what I will hit 55 and take my pension, so that’s how I found myself in a position where I thought I might like to volunteer.

In her previous role Caroline was used to making regular home visits, so communication and support was something that came naturally to her.

Originally volunteering for b.kinda clothing, she soon found that her confidence was coming back.

“I had always been given autonomy in my jobs, I wanted somewhere I could suggest stuff and could make myself useful. I gradually did every job there, it was great I could see things and suggest things.

When b.kinda clothing stopped running earlier this year, our People Services team suggested Caroline come down and look at our specialist unit.

“Pretty much straight away I was saying I don’t mind what I do as long as it is useful. If I need to get my hands dirty I will do it, if something needs doing, it needs doing. I didn’t know originally they were looking for a ward clerk, but I fitted right into it.”

‘Giving your time is a great gift’

From organising the toys in our family room, to arranging the flowers kindly donated by Sainsbury’s in patient’s rooms, folding and putting away the laundry and watering the plants as well as conducting patient surveys, there is always something to keep Caroline busy. She has also taken on the care of the outside area at the back of our specialist unit, giving the space some love to make it more enjoyable for patients.

“It’s about taking time that other staff haven’t got – what might take me an hour and a half may take someone else three as they have their real jobs they have to do. It makes a massive difference.

“Volunteering makes me feel useful which I haven’t felt for a long time in a workplace. When over your lifetime you can spend so much time in a workplace, you’ve got to be happy there and feel that what you’re doing has a purpose.

“Charity work is not just about raising money all the time, giving your time is a great gift. The impression you get of volunteering can be a bit skewed, but there is so much you can do. There are so many people working behind the scenes at St Luke’s. Unless you ask you never know where you might fit.”

Debbie Jessop, one of our Clinical Admin team has been showing Caroline the ropes. She said: “Caroline arrived at our specialist unit fresh from volunteering at b.kinda and has already made a massive difference. She has thrown herself into the general day to day workings of the running of the unit and is such a positive, friendly, cheerful face on a Tuesday. She sees the things that need doing and just gets on with it. Caroline is freeing up time from some of those little jobs, like tidying toys and books and putting laundry away, which enables the nurses to put the extra time back into patient care.”

Volunteer opportunities at our cafe at our specialist unit

If you would be interested in giving your time to St Luke’s then we would love to hear from you. We are currently looking for volunteers to help out at our Driftwood Café at our specialist unit at Turnchapel. As a front of house role, the position would involve serving our hard-working nurses as well as being a friendly face to visiting family members.

Find out more about our volunteering opportunities here.

Related articles

, , ,

BLOG: Ray’s windswept 1,000-mile quest for Toby

Halfway up a wild and wet Mount Snowdon, George Fletcher felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around to find a little girl aged around seven or eight waiting to hand him a £10 note. She wasn’t the first or last to approach the 85-year-old from Ivybridge as he embraced the enormous challenge of climbing the highest mountain in Wales, accompanied by his son Marc, and family friend Mark Buckham, to raise funds for St Luke’s.
, ,

BLOG: Hospice hero celebrates 35 years

As modest as he is kind, Andy Campbell would never describe himself as a ‘hospice hero’, but having reached the milestone of 35 years’ dedicated service with St Luke’s – making him the team’s longest serving current employee - it’s a title that could not be more deserved.
, ,

BLOG: George’s peak performance!

Halfway up a wild and wet Mount Snowdon, George Fletcher felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around to find a little girl aged around seven or eight waiting to hand him a £10 note. She wasn’t the first or last to approach the 85-year-old from Ivybridge as he embraced the enormous challenge of climbing the highest mountain in Wales, accompanied by his son Marc, and family friend Mark Buckham, to raise funds for St Luke’s.
, ,

BLOG: National Volunteers’ Week 2024 – celebrating the volunteers keeping St Luke’s services running

Behind the doors of St Luke’s you will find an intricate web of volunteers keeping our charity running. This week is Volunteers’ Week (3-9 June), a chance to celebrate the wonderful team of volunteers that keep the cogs of St Luke’s turning. From working in our fleet of shops, to volunteering at our specialist unit, our volunteers are the backbone of our organisation.
, ,

BLOG: Making miles matter for Dad

“I truly believe that it was the care of St Luke's that gave my dad the chance to meet his grandson and have six precious weeks with him.” For every patient we care for, there are family or loved ones going through the unimaginable. Which is why memory making is so important to us. We want to give our patients the chance to live until they die, making precious memories with loved ones. Jade Moore will be taking part in our Midnight Walk on Friday 12 July in memory of her father, Stuart Moore who died in September last year after being diagnosed with tonsil cancer.
, ,

BLOG: The heights George will go to for the love of Eve and St Luke’s care

When Marc Fletcher and his best mate started making plans to climb Mount Snowdon in memory of his late mother, Eve - shining a spotlight on the care she received from St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth - they asked his father, George, if he’d like to take the train up to meet them at the top and perhaps walk back down. But the 85-year-old was having none of it. If they were climbing Snowdon – the highest peak in Wales – then George wasn’t going to take the easy option. For him it’s not only a way to honour his wife of 55 years, but also to raise funds for St Luke’s so that other local families can benefit from the compassionate doorstep urgent care service he had no idea existed until they experienced it themselves earlier this year.
, ,

BLOG: Roger Young revs up to keep St Luke’s on the road

A premier south west car dealership is helping to keep St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth’s expert urgent care services on the road. The charity’s nursing teams clock up more than 80,000 miles each year, delivering their specialist end of life care direct to the homes of patients all over Plymouth, West Devon, the South Hams and East Cornwall, so it’s vital for them to have transport they can rely on. This week Roger Young’s recently opened Suzuki showroom, based at Saltash, handed over the keys to a brand new Ignis hybrid four-wheel drive hatchback to bolster the charity’s fleet for the next six months.
, ,

BLOG: Volunteer Sheila’s seaside stay

Our volunteers are a truly inspiring bunch. They selflessly give up their time to help others, rarely getting time themselves to relax and unwind. Which is why we were overjoyed when one of our dedicated volunteers was awarded a special mini-break thanks to Room to Reward, a volunteer-recognition charity who offer UK based breaks for hidden heroes. Sheila Eccleston, who lives in Hooe, has been volunteering for half a day every week on our reception at our specialist unit at Turnchapel for the last decade, having celebrated her 10 year anniversary in November last year. It was her unwavering dedication and kind-hearted nature that meant she was nominated for the reward.
, ,

BLOG: Green-fingered volunteers transform Turnchapel gardens

Green-fingered volunteers have been busy transforming the gardens at our specialist unit. Ten volunteers from Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest generously gave their time and skills to clearing out the overgrown gardens at Turnchapel ahead of our new transformation works that will be commencing soon. The team, who are employed by Plymouth City Council, operate across Plymouth, Dartmoor National Park and the South Hams, providing funding and support to plant trees that will help with biodiversity loss, increase pollinators, capture carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change.