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BLOG: New Year, New You

Kick start the new year by doing something great for your community by volunteering for St Luke’s.

Our amazing volunteers are at the heart of St Luke’s and the services we provide. We appreciate them every day and want to say an extra big thank you to them all for the difference they make.

If you’ve ever considered the idea of volunteering, but just haven’t got round to making that first step. Perhaps, some messages from our current volunteers may just inspire you.

Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Trudy Turner – Estover charity shop volunteer

The majority of our volunteers are based across St Luke’s 30 plus charity shops throughout the community. Trudy Turner is a familiar friendly face to customers at our Estover shop and has found that volunteering there has been a great way to both meet people and gain new skills.

A support worker and registered carer for her daughter, Trudy lives locally.

“This was a way to get myself back into the workforce after 12 months at home as a carer,” she said. “Even though I explained my experience wasn’t recent, that wasn’t a barrier. It was a case of come in and see how you get on.”

The flexibility of volunteering and the fun to be had along the way also appeal. “There’s no pressure,” said Trudy, who helps create the shop window and other displays. “I can do two hours on a Saturday or a full day – it doesn’t matter. There’s lots of mayhem and lots of fun.”

Inspired? Find out about volunteering opportunities in our new Plymouth city centre charity shop. Give us a call on 01752 401172 and ask for volunteer services.

Jennie Easterbrook – Dritwood Cafe volunteer

Behind the counter at our Driftwood Cafe at Turnchapel, the first thing you notice about Jennie Easterbrook is her mega-watt smile. Along with her fellow volunteers there, she ensures visitors receive a warm welcome and great service, whether they’re in for a work meeting or to spend time with a relative receiving our care.

As well as serving there, Jennie helps out in the kitchen and can also be seen wheeling the tea trolley around the ward, making sure patients and relatives can enjoy a relaxing cuppa, or collecting dishes.

Jennie’s father, who passed away two years ago, received St Luke’s care at home. It was witnessing the quality of the medical care and emotional support he received that helped Jennie decide to give back by becoming a volunteer. “It was eye-opening to see how much care is given in the community,” she said.

Seeing her face light up when she talks about our patients, it’s clear that making a difference to them is Jennie’s biggest motivator for getting involved. She said: “You would never be able to tell some people are so poorly. You chat and have a laugh. If you treat them as people rather than walking on eggshells, you get a lot back. They’re so grateful for the slightest thing and it’s just so rewarding. When one of them told me recently that I was a ‘ray of sunshine’, I could have cried!”

Reflecting on her time caring for her father before he passed away, Jennie says she found it both heartwrenching and rewarding to look after the person who had raised her, adding: “If I can help just one person – make a difference to that one – then it’s mission accomplished really.”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.

Adrian Frost – Befriender and bereavement support volunteer

How does a Bristish Gas engineer with 33 years’ service become one of our Social Care volunteers, providing such valuable support to people facing the end of life and coming alongside those who have lost loved one? Seamlessly, it’s clear, hearing Adrian Frost talk about how he took up volunteering with us nearly 20 years ago. It was the loss of his brother Roger in 1996 at St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle that made Adrian take stock and decide to get involved with our charity in 1998.

“I can’t imagine not doing it now – I find it so rewarding,” he said. “I often take people out for a drive across Dartmoor or up by the coast. Sometimes we visit a cafe or take a picnic. When people are poorly and they can’t get out easily, that can make all the difference.”

And Adrian is quick to bust the myth that hospices like St Luke’s are depressing. “Yes, there are times of tears and sadness but the majority of the time it’s lovely. It’s full of light and laughter!”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.

Amanda Jackson – Medical volunteer

Recently retired and with 45 year’s nursing experience under her belt, Amanda Jackson found that serendipity played its part in bringing her to St Luke’s.

“I was looking for a way to give something back to the community and use my skills at just the time St Luke’s was recruiting volunteers for the specialist unit at Turnchapel,” she said. “I do what’s needed on the day, whether it’s making beds and helping with bathing or spending a couple of hours listening to a patient. I enjoy the contact with them and their families, and listening to their stories.”

The one morning a week she volunteers means a great deal to Amanda. “When you retire, you can lose who you are and it’s important to get that back,” she said. “It’s made me feel valued again. It might be just a small part of my week and the Hospice’s week, but hopefully I can contribute something, and I get a lot out of it.”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.

Brian McCourt – Maintenance volunteer

Like so many of our hard-working volunteers, Brian McCourt enjoys putting the practical skills gained through a long career to great use to help St Luke’s and those we look after. With 30 charity shops and much related maintenance there’s plenty to keep him busy, and the skills he acquired from many years working as a carpenter, joiner and shop-fitter are in constant demand. Brian, who worked for Bambles and at the Dockyard, first became incolved with our charity through fundraising , including setting up a St Luke’s Hospice Cricket League. He has been volunteering for us for many years, giving two days a week of his time.

Brian said: “Plumbing, electrics, brick-laying, carpentry – there’s plenty to do around the shops. And if you don’t know, you’ll be working with a tradesman who does. “When there’s a new shop, I help set that up, too. I recently worked on the one at Southway. There’s no pressure though – you do what you can and as long as you’re helping, they’re happy.”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.

Reception volunteers

When visitors arrive at our specialist unit at Turnchapel, the warm and friendly welcome they receive plays a big part in the relaxed, peaceful and uplifting setting they encounter, often at a time when they’re expecting something far less positive. But did you know it takes 25 volunteers to help ensure the smooth-running of our busy Reception area?

Jenny Nicol, Senior Receptionist, said: “There’s a lot to juggle on Reception, from greeting visitors and answering the phones to dealing with enquiries from patients, relatives and staff. It’s really important that we provide a friendly and professional service, particularly as many of the people we see are going through a really difficult time. It just wouldn’t be possible to do what we do without our wonderful volunteers.”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.