Volunteers the backbone of the Foyle Hospice

Sharon Williams, Volunteer Co-Ordinator at the Foyle Hospice. DER4013MC018
Sharon Williams, Volunteer Co-Ordinator at the Foyle Hospice. DER4013MC018

We just couldn’t do it without them.”

It’s a simple statement but one that speaks a thousand words.

The Volunteer Coordinator of Foyle Hospice Sharon Williams knows what she’s talking about. When it comes to the day to day running of Foyle Hospice, it couldn’t happen without its 350+ volunteers.

“Volunteers are the backbone of Foyle Hospice. Their skills and individual qualities complement our staff they make a vital contribution to the high quality and diverse service that the hospice provides”, says Sharon. “Together with staff, volunteers help us provide holistic care to patients and to their families, which also address their emotional and spiritual needs.”

“They do everything from tending the gardens to working in one of our five charity shops.

“Many of our volunteers have had personal experience of the care provided by the hospice and they want to give something back.”

“Many volunteers talk about the rewarding aspects of volunteering, the feeling of self-worth having made a difference to the lives of people living with cancer.”

Sharon explained how volunteers provide complementary therapies in Day Hospice and the In-Patient Unit – “treatments such as reflexology can significantly reduce a patient’s anxiety and aid better sleep”. Complementary Therapists also offer treatments to carers and to parents of the children and the young person’s bereavement service, ‘Healing Hearts’.

Complementary therapy is just one of the roles offered by volunteers. The hospice also has a team of hairdressers and beauticians who offer up their time free of charge to offer their services to patients. Sharon says, “Patients enjoy a lift after a cut and blow dry in the hair salon or after having their nails painted”.

Sharon described some of the volunteer roles in day Hospice, “Committed volunteer drivers provide transport to and from the centre, without their support some of our patients would struggle to access this service.

“A team of volunteers offer art and music therapy and a quiz master ensure a activity packed day for patients”.

Anyone who has ever visited the hospice couldn’t fail to be captivated by the magnificent gardens which are tended to by a dedicated team of gardeners who are all volunteers. Sharon says, “We are very fortunate to have a team of gardeners who over the last 20 years have designed and landscaped many beautiful gardens. Sharon describes the work that goes on behind the scenes in the kitchen or in the laundry room. “Volunteers roll up their sleeves to help with dishes, to bring the tea trolley around the ward in the evening and come in on the weekend to help with laundry.”

There are a variety of fundraising roles open to people. “There’s a steadfast group of volunteers who keep the five charity shops ticking over six days a week.

If someone can only offer a few hours around Christmas or Easter time becoming a volunteer on our promotional stands might suit them.

For people who like to participate in events they can get involved with promoting the event, packing goodie bags or help with marshalling for charity walks”.

The Hospice is always keen to recruit new volunteers. Sharon explained how people can become a volunteer,

“I can guide people through the short placement process, the first stage is as simple as picking up the phone”. Sharon described some of the opportunities available: “We are currently looking for people to help with general maintenance, laundry, drivers and shop assistants. If you have a talent for creative writing or are a dance therapist we would love to hear from you.”

To find out more about volunteering contact (028) 71351010 and speak to Sharon Williams.