Hospice volunteering: it’s not what you think!

This week (1 – 7 June 2023) is Volunteers’ Week. A time to celebrate the amazing people who give up their time to support our work. With over 1,600 registered volunteers between Peace Hospice Care and Rennie Grove Hospice Care, they cover a huge variety of roles. Some you may be familiar with, and some you haven’t heard of, yet...

Hospice volunteering: it’s not what you think!

Carolyn volunteers in the eBay department of our retail and trading team. She explains:

“I volunteer every Friday morning at our retail and trading headquarters, Bainbridge House, as an eBay lister – specialising in books. We get a lot of donations of books into the shops and if a shop team thinks they’ve got something that could collect a little more money on eBay, they send it into the warehouse for listing. When I come in, I’ll have a look at the books that have come in that week and pick out any that I think are valuable and are going to make the most money for the charity if listed on eBay. I’ll then do a basic valuation, and check to see if there’s a signature, a first edition cover, or if there’s anything unusual that will increase the book’s value. Finally, I’ll put together a shortlist of books to list, and then I’ll photograph them and write the description and list them on eBay.”

Colin’s role sees him working from one of our High Street shops, but it’s not the customers he works with – Colin’s role is PAT testing electrical donations. He explains:

“My role involves testing electrical items that are donated to the shops to make sure they’re safe for sale. The items we test range from hair dryers to televisions. I’m based in the Princes Risborough shop along with a friend of 30 years who also volunteers as a PAT tester here, so it’s nice when we have the chance to work as a team.”

Dave also works in the retail & trading team but neither in a shop nor in the warehouse. His role is much more mobile – as a volunteer van driver.

Dave says:

“The role involves driving a Transit-sized van, alongside a driver’s mate volunteer, to move stock between the retail warehouse and the charity’s High Street shops. There are now a total of 32 shops, all on different routes, that need supplying with stock, so we’re kept busy! The shift generally starts at 9am and most are finished and back at the warehouse by around 1pm.”

Driving is also a key part of Peter’s role as a medicines collector for the Peace Hospice Inpatient Unit. He says:

“The role involves collecting orders for controlled drugs and medication from the Peace Hospice Inpatient Unit before taking them to the hospital, which is usually Mount Vernon. I then collect the drugs and bring them back to the Inpatient Unit, after checking that all the correct processes and paperwork have been completed. I also sometimes collect blood products from Watford Hospital and take them to the Inpatient Unit.”

Penny’s volunteering role has one main base – the Open Art Studio at the Peace Hospice site in Watford. Here’s what she says about being an art therapy volunteer:

“I have been helping in the Open Art Studio, run by Ros from the hospice’s outpatients team, since it reopened after the pandemic. It is a therapeutic art programme for patients of the hospice that is run by an amazing artist called Lyn. You might think that to volunteer with the art therapy team you’d need to be artistic but I would say I don’t have an artistic bone in my body! The art side is Lyn’s role. I’m there to assist with things like setting up the room, welcoming everybody who is attending the session and providing refreshments. I also spend my time chatting to the people who are attending the session. This is something I really enjoy – I’ve spent my whole life working with people so it’s great to be doing that as a volunteer, too.”

Georgina volunteers at our Grove House site but not with patients. She spends her volunteering hours working with laundry! She says:

“I’m responsible for the clean laundry that’s needed by the complementary therapy staff and volunteers at Grove House. This is largely towels and pillow cases that are needed for treatment beds. I check the clean laundry that is delivered by a laundry company and make sure that we’ve received everything we should have, and quality check that everything is clean. A key part of my role is ensuring strict hygiene standards to ensure there’s no infection risk to patients. I also rotate stock to make sure that it’s all used in the right order. “

While Georgina volunteers inside Grove House, Martin’s role sees him taking care of the outside of the site – as a volunteer gardener. He says:

“I’m part of just one of the teams of gardeners. My group – the Thursday group – has about six garden volunteers. We look after the gardens around Grove House so we take care of planting, pruning and weeding as needed. We’re also currently preparing the grounds for an Open Garden event, when the public will be invited to come and look around, so we’re making sure everything is just right for that.”



When asked about why they enjoy their volunteering, here’s what some of the volunteers said:


“I volunteer one morning per week and I get so much out of it. I feel like I’m using my time constructively and I hope I’m helping to make a difference to patients. I hope to continue volunteering for as long as I can because I get so much out of it – it really is a two-way thing.”


“For me volunteering is a great way to say thank you and give something back to the hospice. My wife benefitted from both inpatient and outpatient care over the course of a long illness, before she died in 2019. My experience of the care provided by Peace Hospice showed me that hospice care is not just about end-of-life care, but about supporting people with a life-limiting illness to live well. I get a lot of satisfaction from volunteering and it’s good to know that I’m doing something to help.”


“I love getting out and about and enjoy the banter with all the people we meet. And the coffee and biscuits! But mostly I enjoy the genuine pleasure that comes from giving my time to such a great cause.”