Volunteer Christine, Alesbury, who received an award for 20 year’s service, says that she can’t believe two decades has passed since she began volunteering. “But this is very me. I tend to stay in places a long time,” she says. The retired primary school teacher of 30 years started volunteering at the charity’s Silverdale Hospice Shop soon after moving to Stanmore Bay. She later shifted to the Whangaparāoa shop when volunteers were needed on Fridays. She says she loves helping out because she’s got to know so many people in the area. “It gives you that sense of community and connection.” Christine, who also runs the Hibiscus Coast Community Centre, remembers feeling heartbroken when the Whangaparāoa shop burned down 10 years ago after a skip outside the shop was set on fire. But the team rallied and quickly moved to new premises. “It is quite an amazing feeling to be part of something like this,” she says.
In the last 12 months, 1200 Harbour Hospice volunteers gave the charity 172,000 hours of their time, skills and energy, which is valued at $3.4 million, based on minimum wage.
Their support enabled Harbour Hospice to care for 1298 patients and their families.
Volunteer roles at Harbour Hospice are wide and varied, from driving patients to appointments, to working in one of its 17 hospice shops, recording a patient’s life story, visiting patients in the community or at its inpatient units, covering receptionist duties, helping in the kitchen, tending gardens and more.
Harbour Hospice volunteer services team leader Vicki Parker says there is a role to suit everyone, but the charity is facing a volunteer shortage.
“It has been incredibly challenging, especially for our shops,” Parker says.
“Our volunteers have stepped up and done so much more than we could ever have expected. “They’ve covered one another’s shifts when people were sick with Covid-19, and some even stepped out of their normal role and into retail roles to allow us to keep our shop doors open.
“But, understandably, some of our more vulnerable or elderly volunteers stepped down when Omicron entered the community and are not yet comfortable returning to their roles.”
Parker says hospice has strong safety protocols in place and volunteers continue to have a wonderful time volunteering in the shops with a great sense of purpose.
“We do desperately need more of them though to lighten the load and help keep our shops open.”
Harbour Hospice shops are a vital source of income for the charity, bringing in one-third of its annual fundraising needs.
To find out more about volunteering for Harbour Hospice, contact Karen Little on 021 199 5149 or Karen.Little@harbourhospice.org.nz