When it comes to boosting your skills, making new friends and improving your health, there’s nothing quite like volunteering. Giving some of your spare time – whether it’s an hour or two once a week or several days a month – to help a good cause has been shown to do all of this and more while providing critical support to help charities like St Luke’s.

Our volunteers are absolutely vital to the operation of St Luke’s and we couldn’t do what we do without them. From students to retired people and from a wide variety of backgrounds, they generously give their time in a host of different roles across our organisaton.

While many are based in our shops, others give their time to help in the cafe at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, become befrienders to our patients or marshal at our key fundraising events, such as the Neon Midnight Walk and Tour de Moor. And there’s another way our fantastic volunteers pitch in – hunting for treasure at our Charity Shop Distribution Centre in Plympton!

It’s at the warehouse that each year thousands of donated items are given by people who choose to drop them off there rather than in our charity shops. Clothes, coins, crockery, books, records, toys, games, jewellery – the sheer variety of the items we receive is something to behold! And all of them need careful sorting, which is where our volunteers come in.

“We call these volunteers our treasure hunters,” said Mark Kendall, Logistics and Recycling Manager. “That’s because they’ve developed a good eye for spotting the interesting and unusual – and sometimes highly collectable – items that can help us raise that bit more money for St Luke’s.

“They work hard, sifting through bric-a-brac before it’s allocated according to which of our shops it suits best, and always keeping an eye out for something special – so it can be an exciting role and there’s often a real buzz.”

On Saturday 21 April, there’s an opportunity to find out more at the Open Day at the Distribution Centre. From 11am to 3pm and open to everyone, it’s a family-friendly event with activities for children and a barbecue, as well as guided tours and taster sessions giving insight into what it’s like to be a ‘treasure hunter’ for St Luke’s. Those who attend will also see the recycling side, which generates income for our charity too.

Mark said: “Without these volunteers, things would grind to a halt. It’s their generosity in giving their time and skills that makes all the difference. And as well as sometimes finding that ‘treasure’, many volunteers say that expanding their circle of friends and feeling part of something as important as St Luke’s and the care we provide gives them an amazing boost.”

Event information:
Volunteer Open Day
Saturday 21 April 2018
11am to 3pm
St Luke’s Charity Shop Distribution Centre, Plympton, PL7 4JN. Directions.

No booking required, just turn up on the day!

For more information call 01752 401172 and ask for volunteer services.

With just two weeks left to register, places for our our Men’s Day Out on 24 March are going fast!

Not only is it an opportunity for a great time with your mates, it’s a chance to celebrate the memory of someone special.

This is just what a team from the Co-op depot in Plympton will be doing when they get together for the day of rugby and banter and walk in memory of Mark, younger brother of colleague Adam Weir, who was looked after by St Luke’s until he sadly passed away recently.

Adam’s colleague, Warehouse Shift Manager Alex Whitehouse, said: “We know from the great care Mark received – and the way St Luke’s cared for a colleague of mine when I was in the Navy – that the nurses there are all angels. They always go above and beyond.

“Mark meant so much to so many people. This is a great way to celebrate his life and raise money for a fantastic charity too. Currently, five of us have signed up and we’re recruiting others. It will be a great day out for an amazing cause!”

Men’s Day Out is powered by IU Energy and there’ll be an extra FREE pint on the day for every guy who raises £100 or more in sponsorship.

Sign up here!

Year 12 and 13 students from Plympton Academy spent the day at St Luke’s to learn more about the role of hospice care in our community and the skills required to pursue a career in health and social care. The students are studying the BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Health and Social Care.

If your school or college is interested in a similar experience, please contact Sister Sue Horsfall | shorsfall@stlukes-hospice.org.uk or call 01752 401172.


Last year, the wonderful crew of the six yachts that took part in the Eddystone Pursuit on behalf of St Luke’s raised a fantastic £4,000 in prize money and sponsorship – enough for us to care for four patients and their families at home.

We’d love to match – or surpass! – that figure this year, to help us care for more people who need our compassionate care.

The Eddystone Pursuit is the South West’s biggest sailing fundraising event and is a 26 mile challenge to the Eddystone Lighthouse and back.

This year’s event is on 23 June and you can sign up from today. In doing so, you’ll experience an exhilarating challenge while making a difference to our patients when time is short.

If you have a boat or have the skills to lend a hand on deck and want to support St Luke’s, please contact Pete Ward in our Fundraising Department on 01752 492626 or email pward@stlukes-hopice.org.uk

Each February, Student Volunteering Week encourages students to get involved with civic life and make a difference.

Among our student volunteers here at St Luke’s are Plymouth University students Olivia Ridholls, 19, and Georgina Miller, 21. They told us about their roles and what volunteering with our charity means to them.

Second-year business student Olivia said: “I’ve been aware of St Luke’s for a long time as my parents do the Lottery and I’ve seen the branding around the city. When I wanted to give some time to making a difference locally, I knew I couldn’t do better than volunteer with St Luke’s.
“I’m with the Events team within Fundraising one day a week and have a great title – Volunteer Treasure Hunter! This means I’m often on the phone talking to various businesses and encouraging them to support St Luke’s by donating goods for our events. For example, I recently helped by securing 27 barrels of beer from Salcombe Brewery for our Men’s Day Out – that’s 1,950 pints!

“I love the role and it’s a great fit for my business course, too. Since starting at St Luke’s my confidence has really grown, which helped me when I applied for a placement as part of the next stage of my degree. I couldn’t have asked to be with a nicer team, and I would love to come back and continue volunteering here during my final year.”

Georgina, who is studying for a masters degree in brand design and management, said: “I’m mum to my six-year-old son as well as being a student, but I really wanted to volunteer as well because I feel it’s important to give something back.

“I enjoy volunteering with St Luke’s so much that I have not just one role, but two! I started with one day a week in the Drake charity shop in the city centre. Later, through a business networking event at the University, I heard about the opportunity with the Events team and learned a lot more about the various sides of the charity. I joined in June and help in any way that’s needed, from placing signage and stock-taking to briefing other volunteers. I love the variety and the people.

“I’m really proud to be part of St Luke’s and volunteering here is giving me really helpful examples I can use in my coursework, so it’s benefiting my studies too. Working in fundraising is great experience for a marketing career so this is ideal for me, and I know I’m helping a fantastic charity at the same time.”

Cuz Cussen is a man on a mission, giving Plymouth people a live music extravaganza to remember while raising as much money as possible for St Luke’s and the care we give our patients and their families.

Cuz is the man behind the city’s annual two-day Rockfest, which will reach its tenth anniversary of raising money for St Luke’s this spring. He started the event 17 years ago, fundraising for various charities close to his heart, and it was following the death of his beloved mum Dot, in May 2008, that he decided to donate all the money raised each year to St Luke’s.

During the last few months of her life, Dot received care from St Luke’s and spent her last few days at Turnchapel. Seeing at first hand the dedication and compassion of our team meant that St Luke’s gained a special place in Cuz’s heart, which has spurred him on to raise an incredible £77,932 through Rockfest for our end of life care.

Cuz, who sadly lost his father just a few months after Dot passed away, works tirelessly to organise and deliver the event at Crash Manor nightclub in Union Street. With 20 bands playing everything from rock to reggae and blues to punk over the two days, plus a raffle with a variety of great prizes, it is a regular fixture in the city and Cuz is always moved by the generosity of those who support it.

“The bands play for no fee, and I’m always blown away by how generously people give at Rockfest,” said Cuz. “I think it’s all a testament to how many people’s lives have been touched by St Luke’s and how highly we all think of the charity. It’s my aim to just keep going and get to £100,000 by 2020. Organising it all is very intense – I’m running on empty afterwards – but what a buzz! It is great to be giving something back to the place that cared for mum so well.”

This year’s Rockfest is on 31 March and 1 April (1pm until late). Tickets are £10 per day on the door and as it is a family-friendly event, entry for under-18s is free, although they can’t stay past 7.30pm.

Bands confirmed for this year include Stone Vulture, Rusty Angels and Funky Munks.

Keep on rocking, Cuz – we appreciate all you do for us!

Get involved…
Rockfest 2018 on Facebook
Rockfest 2018 on Twitter

 

 

Thank you to Plymouth Argyle Football Club for putting its best foot forward to support our Sponsor a Nurse campaign.

Recently two of the players, Jamie Ness and Luke McCormick, visited our specialist unit at Turnchapel to meet some of our nurses and see for themselves the compassionate care St Luke’s provides.

 

 

Wow, what a night! As part of their support for our Sponsor a Nurse campaign, Plymouth Argyle dedicated a recent home match – beating rivals Northampton Town in the process!

It was wonderful to see the players in their St Luke’s t-shirts, and we’re grateful to the club and the fans who demonstrated such tremendous support for our charity.

Recently, a keen fundraiser and St Luke’s Lottery winner visited the specialist unit at Turnchapel to collect his £1,000 cheque and enjoy a special cream tea.

Lesley Coulton, Regular Giving and Lottery Manager, and Paola Simoneschi, Communications Officer, had the pleasure of meeting retired stonemason Raymond Shipton, who shared with them treasured memories of Tricia, his beloved wife of 58 years, who was cared for at Derriford and passed away in the summer. Raymond’s niece, Susan Van Neck, was a patient at St Luke’s many years before.

Over the tea and scones, Raymond spoke movingly about Tricia and the life they shared. “Tricia was a very, very special person and we had the most wonderful life together,” he said. “We met when we were really young. In fact Tricia was just nine when I first saw her – I was delivering the newspaper to her house,” he said. “Later, we attended a youth club together and school in Horrabridge, and we were inseparable.”

The couple married after Raymond completed National Service and went on to have three daughters. In later life came the joy of eight grandchildren, and the family continue to be very close.

Keen baker Raymond has been President of a Plymouth Lions Club twice. The Club has generously raised money for St Luke’s, and Raymond remains a very active member.

“I’m so pleased Raymond was able to visit us to receive his cheque,” said Lesley. “It was a real privilege to meet him and particularly special to hear his memories of Tricia.”

In his gratitude for receiving the Lottery cheque, Raymond presented Lesley with a cheque for £100 for St Luke’s.

Inspirational Espi - Esperanza Merry

 

Inspirational Espi - Esperanza Merry

Among St Luke’s fantastic volunteers there’s a special person who’s packed an impressive amount into her young life and is a great inspiration to all around her, whatever their age!

A familiar face at the specialist unit at Turnchapel, where she gives her time to help on reception and serve in the Driftwood Cafe, 17-year-old Esperanza Merry was recently named Volunteer of the Month by Improving Lives Plymouth. Meeting Espi, as she likes to be known, it’s easy to see why – her enthusiasm for giving back to St Luke’s, which cared for her grandfather at the end of his life, bubbles over.

I was incredibly close to my grandfather and losing him was very hard,” said Espi, who is half Peruvian and grew up in Plymouth. “I wanted to honour him, and volunteering at St Luke’s is an important part of that. Being on reception and working in the Cafe means I frequently meet families visiting a loved one, and I can really relate to some of what they must be feeling.”

Espi is not a ‘typical teenager’. By the age of 11 she had competed in – and won – over 40 tennis tournaments worldwide. However, in 2011 a life-threatening infection in her hip led to septic arthritis and not only did this impact her professional tennis career, she was expected to be in wheelchair for the rest of her life. With the help of surgery, physiotherapy and her own grit and determination though, she gradually progressed to walking on crutches and then completely unsupported, although she still has to deal with constant pain.

Inspirational Espi made her mark along the way, becoming the world junior champion in wheelchair tennis. Although it was a huge part of her life, she has since retired from the sport to follow other interests. As part of this, she is studying business at City College.

Listening to Espi, it’s clear she is very happy to juggle her studies and volunteering. It’s also obvious that this is someone who relishes a challenge!

Due to my experience of hospitals, I’m not phased by the hospice environment but volunteering on reception was daunting at first,” she said. “I want to work on my weaker areas though, and this is really helping to build my confidence. Plus, I’m surrounded by people who are an inspiration to me – the staff, fellow volunteers and the patients and their families.”

If Espi has inspired you to volunteer with St Luke’s – or to speak with friends or family about volunteering – the new year could be a great time to start!

Find out more here: https://www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/volunteering/

Christmas in their words - Letters from our nurses

Christmas in their words - Letters from our nurses

 

Our special nurses are central to the care St Luke’s provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including over the Christmas period. But how does it feel to be providing such essential care at this time of year, and how does Christmas impact their patients and families?

Karen Thorrington is part of the team at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, where we have 12 beds for patients with with complex needs that are proving difficult to manage in other settings.

Karen said: “It’s an extremely special time of year, especially for our patients as for many it will be their last. We try to create as many happy memories as possible as it’s important they get to experience everything they can with the time they have left. We make sure there’s a really jolly atmosphere on the unit. It is bittersweet, but us being happy at work helps our patients and their families. There’s definitely more laughter than tears. We remain sensitive to everyone’s needs, decorating the unit towards the middle of December as too early can be a reminder for many that they may not see Christmas. Around that time, staff can be spotted with tinsel in their hair, wearing Christmas-themed tights – often a talking point!

The best way to describe what we do at Christmas is to give people the gift of time – time to open presents, time for a meal together, time for sharing stories and laughter. There’s nothing more important than time for those who are spending their last days with us. Sometimes we have to make the decision to bring Christmas forward as we did for a patient and her family last year. The catering team provided a fantastic buffet, including special treats for the patient’s grandchildren.

The family brought in their ukuleles and played Christmas carols for hours. There was a real party atmosphere – lots of laughing and singing. It was a very special occasion and she talked about it for days after.”

James Mills is part of the St Luke’s team based at Derriford Hospital. The team offers specialist advice and support for any hospital inpatient with a progressive life limiting illness.

James said: “We provide a palliative care service to the whole hospital seven days a week, including over the Christmas period. We work closely with staff and patients on Brent ward (oncology), who are very good at creating a positive and festive atmosphere. Christmas can be an emotionally charged time for people, and of course this is even more true for patients and families faced with a life limiting illness. There’s an awareness that this might be their last Christmas together. A nurse in our team spoke recently of a patient signing Christmas cards now so her family have one to open from her this year. We also see patients and families bringing their Christmas forward in order to be able to celebrate with loved ones.

Personally, Christmas evokes memories of those I’ve cared for over the past year, those who’ve died and how their families must be feeling during this time. As a team we have a heightened awareness of their situation, and we try to keep a sense of normality and remain upbeat for them.”

Jenny Evans works with our Crisis Team, which provides terminally ill patients with a 72-hour window of specialist care at home, including those in residential and nursing homes, at a time of crisis.

Jenny said: “Working over the Christmas in healthcare feels different to most other professions, as we often miss out on our own family celebrations, which can be sad. This doesn’t compare to the feelings our patients and families are experiencing though. It’s a great privilege to be involved in a patient’s care, particularly at this time of year.

While we can’t change the fact that the person is dying, we can help make it as dignified and comfortable as possible, providing holistic care, as we do all year around. A particular memory that stands out is from 2005, when I spent Christmas Eve helping facilitate a discharge home from hospital. The man was in his early 40s, with children. He was in the last days of life and both he and his family were desperate he should get home.

The patient’s wife was very much in denial of his prognosis, thinking he was going to get better. I spent lots of time with her, giving support. We did manage to get him home late in the evening, and cared for him in his own bed. The night staff then also spent time with him and the family, and managed to gain symptom control. Although he was unresponsive on Christmas Day, he was much more comfortable, which enabled his family to have one last Christmas with him at home. He died peacefully on Boxing Day, surrounded by them. While this was a very tricky situation, it was wonderful we were able to make a difference so that he was with loved ones and able to see the hundreds of decorations his children had made. The house looked like Santa’s grotto!”

Julie Hicks works as part of the St Luke’s at home team, which offers specialist advice, care and support to people with progressive life limiting illnesses in the comfort of their own home.

Julie said: “When someone needs our care at home, it is understandably a difficult time for both them and their loved ones, regardless of the time of year. I’ve noticed though, that in the run-up to Christmas they can be experiencing the strain of extra concerns. Christmas is a special time of celebration, but for some people with life limiting conditions and their families, it can be a time of reflection and great sadness.

Frequently, taking the time to help them make a plan can alleviate some of their anxiety and enable them to focus more on having the best possible Christmas. The Community Team continues to provide the same supportive service whatever the season.”