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hospice neighbours celebrate in hospice garden

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Hospice Neighbours service wins Queen’s Award

A St Nicholas Hospice Care service which helps to make living with dying better for people in their own homes has won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from Buckingham Palace.

Hospice Neighbours help between 120 and 150 people at any given time, with volunteers providing companionship and assisting with household tasks that can feel overwhelming when you are unwell.

Kay Newman, St Nicholas Hospice Care Hospice Neighbours Co-ordinator, said: “We are fortunate to have so many enthusiastic Hospice Neighbours volunteers: without them we would not be able to help so many people.

“For me it’s not about winning the Queen’s Award, but it’s about the recognition for everyone. They give up their time – sometimes only an hour a week – and make such a difference.”

There are 167 Hospice Neighbours volunteers working in 20 teams across West Suffolk and Thetford, who between April 2013-April 2014 spent more than 5,400 hours visiting 321 patients. During those visits 81 per cent of volunteers’ time was spent providing companionship, seven per cent on domestic tasks, including housework and gardening. They also supported patients by helping out with shopping, dog walking and complementary therapies.

Joe Buttery is visited every week by his Hospice Neighbour Rick Shepperson. Joe said: “I have got a great friend out of Hospice Neighbours. It has made a lot of difference. Now I have got a reason every week to go out – we visit Matalan, Lackford Lakes or go into town. I am stuck indoors most of the time, so it has made me feel better to know I’ll be getting out – it is a Godsend.”

Patricia Francis, of Lawshall, has advanced Multiple Sclerosis and receives regular visits from her Hospice Neighbour. She said: “Hospice Neighbours is wonderful, because when you’re isolated it is nice to have someone coming to visit every week. For me, the benefit is that after a while you get to know someone and you can talk to them about all your fears and worries.

“It’s wonderful Hospice Neighbours has won this award and it gives a boost to the whole Hospice – it’s so nice for everyone to be recognised for the work they are doing.”
Barbara Gale, St Nicholas Hospice Care Chief Executive, said: “Thank you to everyone who’s made Hospice Neighbours a success. An idea I had a few years ago would never have come to fruition without all the hard work of volunteers. They have made something that seemed a bit of a dream become a reality. I thank them for their hard work, passion and commitment to the Hospice.

“Using volunteers in people’s homes is quite unusual in the UK and many Hospices from across the country have come to learn from our model.

“Winning the Queen’s Award is a wonderful accolade for everyone involved.”

The Queen’s Award celebrates excellence in voluntary activities carried out by community groups.