Volunteer Vanessa is part of valuable team at hospice

Vanessa Heath
Vanessa Heath

Volunteers are not just people who fundraise, pack your bags for donations or climb the highest mountain in the country.

Each smile, each hello and each face make up one of the every 480 volunteers who help keep Lancaster St John’s Hospice running.

From drivers transporting patients, to gardeners growing vegetables, each volunteer makes up 56,000 hours of time which was donated to the hospice last year.

One of these volunteers is Vanessa Heath who is based within the fundraising department and was previously a ward clerk.

Vanessa volunteers every Tuesday and is glad to be part of the team.

Mrs Heath said: “Without the volunteers the cost of giving for the hospice would be a lot, it is nice to be a part of that.”

Vanessa joined the hospice in January and was surprised to discover how much 
support is offered to the community.

Mrs Heath said: “I thought it was just end of life care when I first started, I didn’t realise it was everything else, such as the hospice at home.

“The old fashioned view of the hospice is a place to die and what the hospice offers has changed.

“The satisfaction you are doing something to help somebody else is amazing and the end result is people come here when they need it.”

Lorraine Swanson, volunteer coordinator at St John’s Hospice, says figures for volunteers is increasing year on year.

Mrs Swanson said: “This grows each year because we are getting more volunteers in all the time.

“I think when people come into the hospice it is not as easy to see what actually goes on.”

St John’s Hospice saved more than £719,000 last year through volunteers raising funds.

Mrs Swanson said: “The volunteers who help do everything apart from actually nursing. A lot are retired because they want to keep that social interaction they had when they gave up work.”