How did you get into volunteering?
Mike: Because of Gwyneth… I was sadly made redundant when I was 63 and it seemed like the end of my world. After over 40 years of working, I wasn’t ready to give it up. We searched the internet for roles – I was a driver – but nothing came up, I even considered going self-employed. Eventually, we found volunteer driving opportunities – St Ann’s was one of the first ones that came up. I met with the Volunteer Manager and that’s how it all started! I have been driving for them since and have got involved with lots of fundraising too.
Gwyneth: Because I used my email for Mike’s application, I got a few communication emails from the hospice. One of them asked us to attend a volunteer meeting to get involved with fundraising opportunities, I thought I’d give it a go and attended with my friend. I began by helping out at a couple of events and over time gradually started to help with more things.
Tell us about your volunteering role
Mike: One of my roles is a Driver for Day Care patients. I pick them up, bring them to the hospice and then take them home later on in the day. I also manage collection tins across parts of Salford. This involves working with Gwyneth to get them ready (we are very organised), I take them out to local businesses then swap them and bring them to the hospice. Either when they are full or after a certain amount of weeks. You’d be surprised how often a collection tin can fill up, all small change helps! One grocery shop fills four tins every month! I also help with various fundraising events and bucket collections.
Gwyneth: I started helping with events and campaigns but found I had a set day to be able to come in and help in the fundraising office once a week. So I now help for a few hours every Tuesday. By coming in on a set day every week I find it helps my confidence when it comes to helping with big events, as I feel I know the campaigns and staff and other volunteers more. I help in the office with lots of admin and general office duties. I also really enjoy helping at events like the Light Up A Life service at Manchester Cathedral, the hospice fairs, bucket collections and marshalling at runs.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
Mike: I find it very rewarding. In 2012 I had a heart attack and had to stay in hospital for the first time in my life, where I got treated so well. So it’s nice to give something back to those who help people. It’s amazing to listen to all the stories from patients and hear about the amazing services and support the hospice provides.
Gwyneth: People’s perception of what a hospice is isn’t always accurate. They are amazing places. So I enjoy being an advocate for the hospice and playing my part in spreading the word about what we do. I enjoy meeting all the different people I come across and getting to know staff and other volunteers.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering for the fundraising team?
Mike: You’ll get so much pleasure out of it, a real sense of fulfilment.
Gwyneth: You will feel part of a family and that you are doing so much for the hospice.