Caroline Young, our Lead for Counselling Services, shares the difference our team of 37 volunteer counsellors, student counsellors and support visitors have made during the coronavirus pandemic.
“During the last few months, our volunteer counsellors, student counsellors and support visitors have continued to help us provide vital, emotional support to patients, families and bereaved families.
When coronavirus started, our volunteers quickly adapted their usual ways of working to begin providing local people with remote support over the phone. For some of them, providing telephone support was a brand-new experience, but they each took up the challenge fantastically. Bereaved families have told us that they’re hugely grateful for this support.
Our team have remained busy providing emotional, spiritual and financial support throughout coronavirus. We’ve continued to accept new referrals and to assess people in our usual way. If appropriate, people have then been offered remote support by one of our staff members or by a volunteer.
Thanks to our volunteers’ help, we’re reaching more people than ever before. And with no issues around room bookings or travel time, we’ve become a more responsive service as we’ve adapted to a new ‘normal’.
Having not been at St Catherine’s very long when the coronavirus pandemic happened, I still haven’t met many of our amazing volunteers face-to-face.
When I first started at the hospice, I was staggered by how many committed volunteers we have. I was amazed that so many local people would give their time freely to St Catherine’s. It’s wonderful that we have so many dedicated people, of all different backgrounds and experiences, supporting our team and our wider hospice. I can’t wait until I can thank them all in person.
However, I’m aware when writing this that many of our other volunteers have had to temporarily stop their volunteering roles as we’ve paused some services and closed some of our shops, and I know this has been a challenge for many of them. I’ve learnt that volunteers seek out St Catherine’s as a place to volunteer, so to not be able to do this has had a big impact. Our volunteers know what a difference our hospice makes to the lives of local people, but the hospice has had to think about their safety during COVID-19. Many of their volunteer roles can’t be done remotely or the staff they support have been on furlough. That’s why it’s been a gift to be able to adapt our services and to continue to receive the support of our 37 counsellor, student counsellor and support visitor volunteers, who continue to offer this essential service safely from home.
I’d like to thank each of them for their ongoing support, and to remind them and all our volunteers and community of supporters reading this, that you make a genuine difference to others during the most difficult of times – Thank you.”