Through our partnership with St. James’s Place Foundation, Saint Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate received a grant of £14,981 in 2012, towards setting up a new Volunteer Visitor service for patients in their own homes. The hospice trained a team of local volunteers and matched their patients with volunteers who shared their interests and hobbies.
Since then, the service has expanded, doubling the amount of volunteers available to support people across the Harrogate District.
The regular visits make a huge difference for people living at home with terminal illness and bereavement, helping them feel less isolated and more independent – and giving them something to look forward to. It’s also an immensely rewarding experience for the volunteers.
Beryl Hague, who is living with lung cancer and bone cancer, explains the difference having a Saint Michael’s volunteer visitor makes to her life:
"Sue and I can talk about anything and I can be really open about things. Having a volunteer visitor means I have someone outside my family to talk to about my situation – I’m able to offload.
“When I was referred to the volunteer visitor’s service I didn’t need medical intervention but I did need emotional support. I lost my husband three years ago. Although I have two daughters and grandchildren who I see regularly, you do still sometimes feel lonely, or anxious, particularly if you’re not feeling well.
“Having Sue coming to see me this past year has been wonderful; I very much look forward to her visits. We walk the dog and garden or go out for coffee. Sue’s even been able to accompany me to hospital appointments for some moral support, which is great. I think it’s very reassuring for my family too.”