New exhibition showcases rich legacy of hospice volunteering

Feb 27, 2014

A new exhibition charting the moving memories and life-enhancing experiences of hospice volunteers over the last 40 years right up to the present day opens at gallery@oxo at Oxo Tower Wharf in London this week.

The multi-media exhibition entitled - The Heritage of Care: Hospice Volunteering in the UK - features a range of compelling photographs, oral histories and video interviews which tell the story of volunteering in hospices over the last four decades.

Volunteers have played a central role in the hospice movement since it was first founded by Dame Cicely Saunders in the 1960s and continue to do so in today’s modern hospices across the UK.

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to share in volunteers’ experiences supporting terminally ill people and their families, including dealing with grief, as well as also witnessing their hopes and excitement at the prospect of helping create better end of life care for those in suffering during the early days of the hospice movement.

The exhibition will also highlight the changing face of hospice volunteering, which has become more diverse in recent years to include more young people and people from different cultural backgrounds.

The exhibition has been collated by Eyes Wide Open – a London-based partnership community programme which runs exhibitions and workshops on a range of social themes.

It has been organised as part of the 18 month Heritage of Care project, awarded a £53,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to explore the history of the hospice movement in the UK. Help the Hospices has also supported the project and is keen to explore and highlight the vital role of volunteers in hospice care.

David Praill, Chief Executive of Help the Hospices, said:

"Volunteers have been essential to hospices since their inception back in the 1960s and they still form the backbone of hospice care today. Without volunteers, hospices simply could not continue the valuable work they do.

"This exhibition memorably captures the history of hospice volunteering through the eyes of volunteers from different periods during the last 40 years. In doing so it pays wider tribute to the contribution of so many more dedicated people who have given their free time to support hospice care.

"Volunteering in a hospice is a very rewarding experience and we hope this exhibition will inspire many more people to consider offering up their time for this."

There are currently 125,000 volunteers working in hospices throughout the UK, who come from a variety of backgrounds and ages. They give their free time to hospices in different ways – ranging from leadership roles as trustees to providing hands on practical and emotional support including for complementary therapies, fundraising and bereavement support.

Hospices are always looking for more volunteers and are especially keen to reach out to more young people, including students.

The exhibition will run at gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf -which is owned and managed by Coin Street Community Builders - from 26 February- March 2. It will be open from 11am-6pm. Admission is free.

Notes to Editor

About Help the Hospices:

  • Help the Hospices is the UK’s leading charity for hospice care which supports and champions the work of 220 hospices across the UK.
  • Hospices provide vital care for people with terminal illnesses and life-limiting conditions and they also support their families.

About Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open was founded in 2006 and has been facilitating art projects and workshops around social themes since that time. It is dedicated to supporting the development of creativity, innovative thought and talent in groups who do not normally engage with the arts.

About Coin St Community Builders

Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) is a social enterprise and development trust which seeks to make London’s South Bank a better place in which to live, to work and to visit.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

Media enquiries

Contact Suzanne Stevenson at Help the Hospices on 020 7520 8296 or by email at For out of hours media enquiries please call 07881 940318.

For gallery-related enquiries, contact Kim Creus at gallery@oxo on 020 7021 1631 or at



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