We are so grateful to the volunteers who are able to safely carry on with their roles during the pandemic.
Among this group are our wonderful Family Support Volunteers (FSVs) who adapted to continue giving emotional support to patients and bereaved people.
Matt Jackson, Family Support Manager, said: “Our volunteers have been truly amazing. They adapted their ways of working so they can continue to provide emotional support for our patients and bereaved people.
“They have been on training to enable them to provide skilled telephone support, deliver food parcels and, if safe to do, provide socially distanced walk and talks. At any one time our Family Support Volunteers support more than 50 individuals.”
One such volunteer is Marie, 67, a former nurse who given bereavement support through St Richard’s for the last seven years.
From regular face-to-face sessions with bereaved people in a quiet room at the hospice, Marie is now supporting them through focused telephone calls. Whereas she would usually support two or three people at any one time, Marie now gives emotional support to six or seven people.
“The service is very much led by the needs of the individual and is extremely variable,” said Marie.
“Supporting people on the phone means I can be more flexible and talk to more people so there are some advantages. And because we can speak to more people, we are able to support them sooner in their bereavement.”
The lockdown restrictions also make bereavement more difficult for some, as they suddenly can’t do the things that may normally have helped them through – such as seeing friends and doing favourite activities. For those who are alone, or were isolating, there is yet another layer of worry.
Marie has found bereavement can be more complex due to the restrictions on funeral arrangements, and people not being able to do as they would have wished for their loved ones.
“I’ve supported people whose loved ones had been cared for by St Richard’s in the hospice or community as well as those who had died from Covid, or other sudden deaths,” continued Marie.
“Being a FSV makes me feel I’m doing something to help and trying to do my bit. My volunteer work brings me great personal satisfaction.
“The Family Support Team at St Richard’s is amazing and incredibly supportive. There’s been lots of training and supervisory meetings and we always feel appreciated too.”