Volunteers needed more than ever

Willow Wood Hospice is appealing for more volunteers to help as the coronavirus continues to hit charities and good causes hardest of all.

Volunteers play a huge role with around 125,000 volunteers in the UK.

More locally, the Ashton-based hospice relies on a small army of literally hundreds of volunteers all performing a wide range of tasks and duties.

From helping to keep charity shops open across Tameside’s towns to helping ensure premises are covid-secure, never has help been more important.

Joanne Hinds who, along with her husband Chris, have been part of the hospice team for almost 10 years now, explain how they became involved - and the rich rewards of being a volunteer.

“My Aunt Beryl was cared for at Willow Wood and we were so touched by the care and thoughtfulness shown to the whole family that we wanted to give something back,” explained Joanne.

“Initially we came to the monthly coffee mornings and were made so welcome that we began to volunteer there ourselves.

“Prior to the pandemic, this had become a fixture in our lives, and we really do miss the other volunteers and all the regular visitors who helped to raise around £12,000 every year.

“I also began to volunteer as a receptionist and formed strong bonds with staff and volunteers alike,” added Joanne.

“We all support each other and have made lifelong friends. Knowing how much it takes to provide the loving care to patients and their families, Chris and myself became involved in fundraising, organising comedy nights and annual quizzes.  

“Of course, this year so many events have had to be cancelled that we decided to hold a weekly Zoom quiz while in lockdown.

“These virtual quizzes raised £1,687.50 for Willow Wood and it was a very poignant and bittersweet moment when I presented the cheque to chief executive Karen Houlston on my Aunt Beryl’s anniversary. She would have been so proud.

Joanne added: “Other members of my family are involved too. My Aunt Josephine donated 25 large bottles of sanitiser for the hospice shops. My stepson, Ryan works for A J Bell in Salford Quays who made a number of donations to charities affected by the pandemic, giving the hospice £1,000 and a tablet enabling patients to keep in contact with loved ones.

“Both Chris and myself truly enjoy our time there.  We are proud to be part of such a wonderful group of people. I know what a daunting experience visiting for the first time can be, and use my reception role to put visitors at ease and make it as pleasurable as possible.  

“As volunteers we are unpaid, but my recompense is knowing that we are helping our community. We can’t imagine not volunteering at Willow Wood.  It is a privilege and a joy.”

If you think you could help in any way, you can visit www.willowwood.info for more information.

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