Volunteers are vital to hospices in helping to deliver high quality care. More than 125,000 volunteers in the UK contribute to hospice care in a wide range of roles.
We did a survey in 2006 which found that the financial value of volunteers to hospices was more than £112 million. This means that if hospices paid people to do the work done by volunteers, their costs would increase by nearly a quarter.
However, hospice volunteering is not just about saving money. It is about making a difference to patients and families. For volunteers, it can also be a way of:
- making new friends
- giving time and skills to the local community
- learning new skills
- finding a way into paid work or a change of career.
What volunteers do
There are lots of opportunities to get involved. Volunteer roles can include:
- offering practical support and companionship through innovative schemes that hospices run in local communities
- taking a leadership role as a trustee and making sure the charity is running well and is doing what it was set up to do (our Governance support pages give more information about the role and responsibilities of trustees)
- working within a hospice on the wards or in day hospice services
- providing administrative help
- supporting retail activities and helping with the running of a busy shop - for example, working on the tills and creating displays
- helping out at fundraising events
- offering specialist skills such as hairdressing, complementary therapies or web-editing.
Volunteers are an integral part of the team and receive appropriate training, support and development.
Most hospices can find opportunities for younger people to volunteer and for working people who can offer a few hours, on a regular basis. Some employers encourage their employees to volunteer, as an individual or as part of a team challenge which can be great for team building and improving staff morale. Schools and colleges can help hospices too.
Several volunteers have shared their personal experiences of volunteering at their local hospice. Read their inspiring stories.
How to get involved
If you want to volunteer, contact your local hospice and ask for the person responsible for recruiting volunteers. Before you can start volunteering, the hospice will want to:
- meet you to find out about your interests and skills
- match your skills and interests with suitable roles
- offer you an appropriate induction or training
- arrange a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if your volunteer role will involve direct contact with patients.
Volunteering for Hospice UK
Hospice UK can also offer some great volunteering opportunities – both in the office and out at our fundraising events. Please get in touch to find out more.