Pilgrims Hospices volunteer Graham Dorkins tells us what it’s like to be back volunteering at the hospice in Canterbury after the long period of lockdown.
Graham has been supporting Pilgrims staff managing the distribution and recording of the regular weekly COVID-19 testing kits. He told us: “It was great to hear from Adrian Matthews, Pilgrims Hospice Service Manager at Canterbury asking me if I would be able to offer some volunteer time to help with this important role.
“I registered as a Pilgrims volunteer around one year ago, but obviously due to the COVID restrictions it’s been a while before I’ve been able to lend my support. I had shadowed as part of the reception team before lockdown, welcoming visitors, professionals and suppliers and hope to continue with the role moving forward. It’s a very rewarding role and there’s much to think about in order to ensure everyone is treated with respect and compassion and the hospice deliveries and maintenance services etc. are dealt with efficiently and professionally. As the first point of contact, it’s really important to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone arriving at the hospice. It’s good to have the support of the volunteer training programme too.
As the first point of contact, it’s really important to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone arriving at the hospice. It’s good to have the support of the volunteer training programme too.
“I worked in the city in the banking sector for many years, I commuted from home in Faversham to London every day which often meant my day started at 5:30am with a journey home at 7:00pm. Two months into the lockdown, I decided to take early retirement which sadly meant I was unable to say good-bye to colleagues personally. However, I felt it was a good time to make changes and it would allow me time to offer my services as a volunteer.”
“Why did I decide to volunteer for Pilgrims?
“Well, I am a Christian and lay minister at St Catherine’s Church in Faversham, and as such wanted to help in the community. I know from personal experience, Pilgrims Hospices are an important service provided to those needing end-of-life care within our community; my mother-in-law was cared for at the Canterbury hospice two years ago.
“The hospice was such a great help to our family.
“I’ve been volunteering one morning each week with the COVID testing kits, it’s been lovely to be around so many people again and I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with the staff and care teams, there have been lots of names to learn and faces to remember.”
There is no doubt at all that without our volunteers we would not raise the £11 million we need each year in order to provide our services to patients and their families.
Jeff Southon, Voluntary Services Manager
Pilgrims Hospices has almost 400 members of staff with around 1,600 volunteers who support them, not only within the hospice buildings but in the hospice gardens, retail stores, and also within fundraising groups and at events.
Jeff Southon, Voluntary Services Manager said: “It’s great to see Graham, and a few other volunteers returning to our hospices, albeit in small numbers at this time. They have been missed terribly over the last 15 months as they create such a positive vibe in the hospices, and they make a real difference to the people we support and care for. There is no doubt at all that without them we would not raise the £11 million we need each year in order to provide our services to patients and their families.
“Volunteers bring a variety of skills and we look for opportunities to utilise their skills in the best possible ways. However, the most valuable attributes they can bring to the hospice are their commitment to the ethos of the charity and a positive approach to whatever role they undertake.
We simply cannot do what we do without them and we are truly grateful to them for donating their time to Pilgrims Hospices.”
Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?
Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!
Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.
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