FOR Alison Fenton, retirement didn’t mean life coming to a standstill. She quickly knew what she wanted to do after moving home to Glasgow from Leeds.
“I had a lot of things I brought with me that I didn’t need and The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice’s shop at Croftfoot has good parking outside for unloading cars,” remembers Alison, 69.
“The manager walked out with me and carried everything back to the shop. I thought that was wonderful. I went in later and asked if she was looking for volunteers.”
After a few years at the Croftfoot shop, Alison moved to the Shawlands shop when it opened in 2012. She now works every Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 4.30pm, usually manning the till.
The 69 year-old from Burnside, who had worked in retail and personnel, enjoys the camaraderie with her colleagues in the shop and the conversation with customers.
The hospice’s team of 600 volunteers is one of its greatest resources, from helping in the cafe to assisting in one of the 16 shops across the city, becoming a volunteer can be a hugely rewarding experience.
This is the hospice’s volunteers week (from February 8 to 14) and a call is going out to anyone who has time to help.
Donating time is a fantastic way to gain experience, learn new skills and meet people. The diverse opportunities available for volunteers means that no matter how much time you have to spare, it all makes a difference.
Family support services can use the help of befrienders, bereavement and Butterfly Room volunteers. While fundraising needs help with can collections, canvassing, out in the community and at events. Day services can use drivers, complementary therapists and hairdressers. And the shops, of course, are always looking for retail assistants and drivers.
“I used to work in retail and it’s completely different from being terribly polite all the time because you can joke with the people that come into the hospice shop,” says Alison.
“They’re regulars and they get to know you. It’s great fun. Sometimes it’s really hard work and other times it’s just a nice afternoon.
“A lot of volunteers are retired or they don’t need to work or can’t work. It gets you out, you meet people and you feel that you’re doing something that’s worthwhile. You’re contributing in a way.
“You learn people skills as you meet so many different people. You used to think people went into charity shops because they couldn’t afford to go to high street shops. That is definitely not what it’s like these days. You get some fantastic bargains.”
She adds, laughing: “People surprise you. I put out bookshelves – they were the ugliest things I have ever seen – and I said to the manager, ‘You’d have to be nuts to buy these.’ Just 20 minutes later a woman was absolutely raving about them.”
Hospice café volunteer, Tracy Docherty, is getting ready to hang up her apron as she goes off on maternity leave.
The 43 year-old from Strathaven first became involved with the hospice in Carlton Place, Glasgow, five years ago, where her mum spent her final two weeks. It was her mum’s dying wish that her children would repay the hospice for the care she received.
“When I come in on a Thursday morning, we work between the café and day services, setting up the coffee and tea and taking drinks to patients and having a chat with them,” she says.
“Volunteers are very important. Because my family and I have a link with the building we also do a lot of work to bring in money through my mum’s tribute fund. So far we have raised £38,000.
“The hospice is a huge part of my family’s life, anything to do with fundraising or charity we do is for The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice because of my mum. She was the most important person in our lives and we’ll do whatever we can for other families to experience the same level of care.”
When 62 year-old Rod Jack – from Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire – took early retirement from his job as an investment manager with a life assurance company, he wanted to keep busy but do something different.
Then he spotted an advert for a van driver at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice and decided to try volunteering. Rod came in to the hospice to find out more and after a meeting with members of the volunteers and retail team, then a short induction course, he was ready to start. He met staff and volunteers at some of the hospice’s shops and hit the road.
Rod volunteers every Wednesday. After coming into the hospice in the morning he gets a list of jobs, delivering stock to different shops across the city.
“It can be as far afield as Kirkintilloch or Baillieston. I start at 10am and every day is different,” says Rod, who is married with three grown-up children.
Some shops receive more donations than others so a crucial part of Rod’s role is to move the stock where it is needed. Sometimes, items that don’t sell in one shop may sell in another so stock is moved around.
All the bags of donations we receive are sorted through in our shops by volunteers and it is crucial we turn as many of these donations into cash for the hospice by selling them on.
“I enjoy getting out and about in Glasgow and meeting people. I like driving, you’re out on your own, and you do what has been asked of you. It’s satisfying at the end of the day to feel you’ve been a part of helping the hospice.
“The purpose of volunteering is to give time and a skill: I am asked to drive a van, pick things up, it is a role that helps the hospice function. It’s about having my skills used and being appreciated.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. I’m a small cog in a bigger wheel that does something worthwhile.”
To volunteer at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice email email@example.com or call 0141 429 5599.
Notes to editors:
About The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice
The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice at Carleton Place, Glasgow, is a charity, founded in 1980.
We provide free person-centred and family-focused palliative care and support. Our specialist staff and wonderful volunteers are trained to work with those individuals and families who are living with significant challenges to their health and wellbeing.
In day care and on the wards, more than 1,200 patients and families are cared for every year.
The hospice depends on the generosity of supporters and the community to raise the £3 million in voluntary donations that is required to maintain our invaluable services for the people of Glasgow.
We have outgrown our much-loved hospice building – it no longer meets our requirements or vision for the future of care of patients and their families – and are fundraising to build a brand new, purpose-built hospice on a leafy green site in the city’s Bellahouston Park.
Our aim is to bring 21st-century hospice care to the people of Glasgow, a major step forward in the provision of palliative care services, providing us with the flexibility to develop and improve our services and lower our age limit to 15 year-old patients.
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