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Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer?

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Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer?

Could you lend a friendly ear to someone when they need it most? St Nicholas Hospice Care needs you.  Hospice volunteers play a crucial role in ensuring the organisation can continue to help those in west Suffolk and Thetford in the final chapters of their life and in bereavement.

Currently the Hospice needs people willing to help out their family support service which provides emotional support to those living with long-term or life-threatening illness and to adults and children experiencing loss and bereavement.

You don’t need any formal qualifications to join the hospice as a volunteer. What you do need is life experience, the ability to listen, to be a friendly ear, and to have an interest in people.

Jennie Unitt, the Hospice’s Family Support Team’s Intake Practitioner and Administrator said: “Our volunteers are vital; they work in the community or in the Hospice and support people where, and how they need it.

“The volunteer’s role can be highly varied but the ability to be able to build supportive relationships is key, as is the ability to be alongside a person in times of change, sadness and loss.

“We need volunteers who are reliable, committed and contactable. You don’t need to be a counsellor as we give our volunteers training and ongoing guidance as well as regular learning workshops and group supervision sessions.”

The team is looking to recruit a number of volunteers to work with staff in three areas: their adult bereavement services, their Nicky’s Way programme which supports children and young people, and those willing to become volunteer family support assistants who work alongside staff supporting families and patients in the last period of life.

The support provided by family support assistants is open ended, there is no set time limit on how long you will be supporting someone, neither is it set in stone the type of support you will be providing.

Family Support Practitioner Kath Blake added: “St Nic’s  is all about supporting people in making choices about how they want to live, how they want to approach the end of their life and how to survive the death of someone they have a close relationship with.

“People are coming to understand that the Hospice is not just a building where people come to die. The Hospice  provides medical, practical and emotional support in the community, the hospice belongs to you and your family at home, bringing dignity to living and end of life.

“We are so pleased to see this message coming alive in our community allowing us to be able to support people where they need it most. This change in view means we need more volunteers to join with us to meet the growing demand.

“We’re up for it and we hope some of our community are as well and we look forward to working alongside them.”

Nicky’s Way is open to any child or young person who has been bereaved and lives in west Suffolk or Thetford.

It gives children and young people the opportunity to meet others in the same situation, and if they want to talk about it they can.

Julie Baerwolf, the Hospice’s Children and Families Practitioner, said: “Working alongside the children and young people that attend our groups can be a really rewarding experience.

“The feedback we get from both parents and children shows us that the creative activities we offer provides children with resources to take with them into the future after a time of loss.”

The next volunteer training course will start on Wednesday, 1 November, with sessions running throughout a six week period with the training finishing in December.

If you are interested in becoming a family support volunteer you will need to let the charity know before Friday, 20 October.

If you would like further information please contact Jennie Unitt on 01284 715572 or email jennie.unitt@stnh.org.uk.