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David Webster: Join our Army of Volunteers

Before becoming the Chief Executive at Dougie Mac  last year, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of the amazing work the hospice does, but little did I really know. So much of what the Dougie Mac does across our community, everyday, is still a local hidden gem.

Dougie Mac was founded in Stoke-on-Trent, opening its doors in 1973 and since then has become a household name across the city and North Staffordshire. Over those 40 years we have certainly grown in the breadth and depth of services we provide to care for over 3,000 local people and their families every year, facing any life limiting illnesses, not just at the hospice but also in peoples own homes.

To deliver such an important local care service, we couldn’t do what we do without not only the monetary support of £1m every month, but also an army of volunteers, 1000 to be precise.  Yes I knew volunteers were important but again had underestimated just the magnitude of how reliant the hospice is on volunteers; a precious gift of time.  In fact, last year alone volunteers gave an incredible 165,646 hours equating to £1,070,000. Some of our volunteers have even been with us for over 30 years! Others have recently joined our team and range from 14 to 90 years old.  Our volunteer family is so dedicated to making the difference and shaping our future.  Astonishing.

The hospice is so committed to delivering the very best quality of care and through volunteer support we are able to significantly increase the scope and reach of the services we offer.

The first 10 weeks at Dougie Mac, has reinforced just how compassionate our community is.  To be able to say we have the support of 1,000 volunteers is incredibly humbling and certainly shows the kindness and generosity of local people.  This support comes from right across the city, Newcastle and the Moorlands.

As you are reading you may have already thought I want to be part of team Dougie Mac.  Despite having 1,000 volunteers we desperately need more volunteer support.  Over the years we have developed a volunteer programme which has allowed us to seize opportunities to become what I think is today a world class organisation.  With the ever changing landscape of our health economy we need to ensure we remain at the forefront of palliative care.  We therefore can provide such a wide variety of roles to suit almost everyone to support your local hospice.

When you visualise a Dougie Mac volunteer you may instantly think of the heroic collectors such as John Leese and Barry Bailey our tin can men, charity shop volunteers that serve you with a smile or maybe those who help to look after our patients.  However, the range of roles we offer today is so much  more than I had certainly imagined.

The reality is we now have grown our volunteer programme which includes training initiatives that has enabled us to develop such a range of roles.  In my first few weeks I have spent time experiencing firsthand what these roles entail  and mean to us, from life as a patient escort on our ambulance, to witnessing our buddies providing a support service to patients and carers in their own homes.  Seeing the volunteer gardens maintain the beautiful grounds no matter what the weather to keeping pace with the colossal amount of administration right across the organisation.  This is just a snapshot of some the roles where we need your support.

Volunteering is evidently a crucial part of so many people’s lives both for those receiving our care and those who choose to support us.  It not only does it help us but many get a feel good factor for making such a huge difference.  Our volunteers also find they feel so enriched by the experience of supporting local people, giving a sense of fulfilment and wherever our volunteers work they gain invaluable experience and a social network – new friends, as part of Team Dougie Mac.  Whether short term or long term I’m sure we can both benefit from your help.

So if you feel enthused to become one of our volunteers contact our Volunteer Resources team on 01782 344332 or email volunteernow@www.dmhospice.org.uk for more information.

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