Hospice volunteers rise to the challenges of Covid

Volunteer Nadya Lurie collects patients' lunch orders from Jacob Pereire of the St John's Hospice ca

Volunteer Nadya Lurie collects patients' lunch orders from Jacob Pereire of the St John's Hospice catering team. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Volunteers at St John’s Hospice have been praised for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

When the first lockdown saw the temporary closure of the hospice’s day centre, around 20 volunteers set up a befriending service, making phone calls and, where possible, visits to those patients isolated from their families, friends and the regular support they receive.

They have clocked up around 200 hours of phone calls and made numerous visits since restrictions eased at the end of the summer.

While the day centre remains temporarily closed, some volunteers have been able to return to the hospice to carry on their duties supporting staff.

“We have an amazing team of volunteers and we are so proud they have been able to help patients during these difficult times and are delighted to have some of them back to ease the pressure on staff,” said volunteer coordinator Sophie Gray.

“We rely on our volunteers one hundred percent for so many different reasons  -  for helping with the day-to day tasks but also reassuring patients, greeting visitors and being a friendly point of contact.”

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READ MORE: Hospice counsellors see rise in demand since the arrival of Covid

Volunteer Nadya Lurie has been working at the hospice for three years. She is a befriender and returned to St John’s in September to help at mealtimes.

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“I am so happy to be back, it feels like home - I really missed it,” said the retired PA.

"People think a hospice is an upsetting place, but there is so much love coming from the staff and volunteers – everyone works together to spread joy, happiness and laughter and that resonates with the patients. We also take the time to look after visitors – they are often so grateful to have someone to talk to.”

St John’s Hospice, the only independent charity hospice serving central and north west London, is facing a more pressing challenge caused by Covid – a £1.3m deficit in its funds. It has launched an emergency fundraising Covid appeal to continue to offer free palliative care to its 4,000 terminally-ill patients per year.

Donations can be made by visiting the hospice website www.stjohnshospice.org.uk or calling 020 7806 4040 and asking for the fundraising team. Every £20 pays for a visit from a bereavement counsellor to support a family member and £50 will pay for three hours of one-to-one care for a patient.

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