More than 450 people volunteer their time at Rowcroft Hospice, taking on a vast array of roles. Their skills are put to use throughout the hospice, in clinics, music therapy, the garden, on reception desks, in shops, at events, and in countless other ways. The tireless work of volunteers helps to save the hospice more than £350,000 every year, meaning that more can go to providing the very best care for people across South Devon.
Among the amazing people keeping Rowcroft running are a growing group of young people. While perhaps not the traditional volunteer demographic for a hospice, they are dedicated, hardworking and want to help in the best way they can, so that the hospice can continue to work for people in South Devon for years to come.
We heard from three of Rowcroft's younger volunteers about the time they have spent with the hospice, their favourite memories and the reasons they regularly return to help out.
Tabitha is 16-years-old and volunteers to play the piano in the chapel as music therapy for patients and relatives staying on our Inpatient Unit. She has been volunteering regularly for eighteen months.
She says: "I started volunteering after school as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. Even after completing the award, I still go in fortnightly and really look forward to it."
"I love playing at the hospice; I feel I am doing the most valuable thing I can to support this fantastic cause. I know how important playing and listening to music is for me and the incredible healing powers music has, so I really try to convey and provide this for everyone through my playing."
"My favourite memory has to be from October last year. From the piano I can see the door to one of the rooms. I was playing What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong when the door was opened and I could see a patient singing along and dancing in their bed. It made me feel so fantastic to know that I had brought somebody so much joy on that day and that my small act of playing the piano seemed to have such a positive affect on them."
"It felt amazing and I think these small occurrences are what makes Rowcroft so special and why it has so many dedicated volunteers. When I speak to people about volunteering for Rowcroft, they will often say how they would love to do something like this in their spare time; they think it's a fabulous thing to do and very rewarding. I completely agree!"
Jenny is 18 and volunteered with the daily set up of Rowcroft's Chronic Oedema Clinic in the Outpatient Unit between October 2013 and February last year.
She says: "I got in touch with Rowcroft through Devon Studio School, and started volunteering in October 2013. I came in to set up the Chronic Oedema Clinic, cleaning the room before the day gets started, and making sure that all equipment was out, ready to use."
"In the future I'd like to work in healthcare, somewhere like Rowcroft. I started volunteering to experience what it is like to work in a hospice; it was certainly an eye opener. The people who work here are amazing, they're so enthusiastic about what they do and it's very inspiring to speak to people here."
Jenny has since stopped volunteering at the hospice, to concentrate on her schoolwork so that she can achieve the grades to go into a profession in end of life care.
Damian is 17 and has been volunteering in the hospice's St Marychurch shop for two and a half years. He started volunteering in his summer holiday, looking for something to keep him busy and for some experience working in retail. He says "I enjoyed working with Simon so much on a Saturday morning that I stayed and volunteer with him three days a week now.
"Every day is different for me; it's good because I enjoy the variety of jobs that need doing, the company of Simon and the other volunteers, and the fact that I'm helping to raise money to help the hospice."
Damian takes on a range of tasks at the shop, including manning the till, sorting donations ready to be sold or moved to the new Distribution Centre and helping drivers load and unload their vans, as well as running fire safety checks. In the summer, Damian also volunteers with the Estates Team to help keep the hospice's gardens in award-winning condition.
Damian says: "My experiences at Rowcroft are among my favourite memories. If I had to choose the best thing about volunteering, it would be working with Simon, he has seen me at my best and at my worst. Working in the shop and with Estates has changed me as a person - I've grown in confidence. I want to thank Rowcroft for the amazing time I'm having."