We were delighted to celebrate our 500+ strong army of incredible volunteers as part of Volunteers Week 2019.

The national campaign which runs from 1 – 7 June recognises the huge contribution that volunteers make across the United Kingdom – and we know our volunteers, at the heart of the hospice, are definitely worth celebrating!

Currently supported by 507 voluntary staff, the hospice has 46 distinct volunteering roles across the organisation including art assistants, volunteer drivers and complementary therapists. Even Agent H the hospice mascot is a volunteer!  Their invaluable contribution to the charity is not taken for granted as Ayrshire Hospice Support Services Director, Valerie Richmond explains:

“Without our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to provide the exceptional level of care and service that we currently do. People can underestimate just how important volunteers are to the Ayrshire Hospice and the important, integrated role they play.

“It surprises many that 71% of Ayrshire Hospice staff is made up of volunteers, which is a significant number and it is extremely heartening that we have such a varied make up – our youngest volunteer is 16 years old and our oldest is 90!  Some of our volunteers have been with us from day one and in this, our 30th anniversary year, it was a real pleasure to recognise many of them at our recent long service awards where the volunteers in attendance had cumulatively given an amazing 435 years’ service to the hospice.”

Last year the Ayrshire Hospice recruited 119 new volunteers to the charity, joining, amongst many others, Martin Malloy who has volunteered with the hospice since September 2017.

Martin is thoroughly enjoying working closely with patients after discovering a passion for caring when looking after a friend. He said: “I have a background in hairdressing and then found myself delivering care to a friend who suffered from multiple health conditions. I found that caring was something I was good at and really enjoyed doing.”

For many people the thought of volunteering at the Ayrshire Hospice would be too much of a challenge and perhaps slight upsetting. However, Martin fully believes it has been one of the most rewarding things he has done.

He continued: “I have managed to face any challenges I have come up against thanks to the support of the whole hospice team. I’ve now progressed from a volunteer escort to working in care and gaining a qualification in palliative care.

“It is rewarding helping people at a dark time in their lives, to be the rainbow in somebody’s clouds.”

Veronica Morrison also volunteers at the hospice by donating her time at the weekend to cover the reception at the In-patient Unit at Racecourse Road, Ayr.

Despite some initial, minor concerns about a hospice environment, that were quickly put to rest, Veronica now loves her role and the role she plays in making today matter for hospice patients and their families.

She said: “I have always worked in an office environment and thought it would be best to volunteer in a similar role. I had never been to the hospice before or knew anyone who had used the services so I was wary that I might make mistakes or say the wrong thing.

“However you are supported by an amazing team who are kind and compassionate. You do feel like you are part of something bigger and worthwhile, people are at the heart of everything at the hospice, it’s great to be part of it.”