You might think that the army of volunteers who support the work of the Hospice of St Francis are mostly people in their more mature years.
After all, that’s the age group that is more likely to have had direct contact with the Northchurch-based hospice team, perhaps through the loss of a loved one, and resolved to do their bit.
But around 10 per cent of the volunteer team is made up of students – and as it’s Student Volunteering Week the hospice is saluting their crucial contribution.
The week is a national initiative to promote the positive difference that students have made to their local communities while encouraging others to give a little of their time to support good causes.
Students volunteer in a wide range of roles from direct patient care on the inpatient unit, chatting to patients and serving meals, to helping out at fundraising events or working in one of the hospice’s nine shops.
And more are always welcome – there’s an application form and a short interview to complete for anyone who wants to get involved.
Angus Rolland, 19, of Northchurch, is volunteering during his gap year and hoping to study medicine.
He said: “Volunteering on the inpatient unit is useful experience for preparing me for patient contact and also seeing what high-quality care looks like.
“Before working here I really didn’t know very much about hospices.
“Seeing the quality of the care and being aware of the fundraising that keeps it free is eye-opening and has helped me better appreciate the vital role of caring for others.” Ashley Wharf, 15, of Hemel Hempstead, has a more personal reason for volunteering.
He said: “I chose to volunteer because of the care they gave my nan in the past, when she was ill.
“I’ve now been here for 18 months, volunteering for two hours a week in my local Love to Give shop.
“I test donations, mainly toys, fill displays and shelves and occasionally cover the till.
“It’s been an amazing experience – volunteering in such a lovely environment.”
The hospice’s voluntary services co-ordinator Gillian Van der Merwe said: “The hospice has a surprising number of voluntary roles to offer students which would align with a degree module, give them valuable work experience to aid a future career or to enable them to spend a few hours giving something back to the local community.
“At the moment I have a particular need for applications from students who would like to work in our shops or in administrative and social media roles, but would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in the hospice.”
You can contact her on 01442 869550 or by email at Gillian.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stfrancis.org.uk.