hospice largeVolunteers are being urged to sign up to help run a brand new in-patient unit that will boosts services for people and their families.

An appeal has gone out for ward hosts who will help meet, greet and support patients at St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington.

They will also look after a host of administrative and computer tasks supporting hospice staff in the smooth running of the new facility, which serves South Durham and North Yorkshire. Hospice volunteer co-ordinator Aileen Little said: “We are looking for people who can commit to a morning, an afternoon, evening or a whole day, on weekdays or weekends.

“There is an element of responsibility and it will suit someone who is newly retired and used to working autonomously.

“This is a special role for a special year as the hospice celebrates its 30th anniversary and an incredible opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives by supporting people who are poorly and their relatives.”

Anyone interested can visit, receive a proper hospice induction and on-going training. Young volunteers are also being offered the chance to experience life in one of the country’s leading hospices.

Aileen said: “Students will be able to work on the new in-patient unit with our nursing staff where they are a genuine help and hugely beneficial if they are applying to university or completing the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.”

Former Barnard Castle School and Darlington College student Hans Kukreja spent his gap year helping with the preparation and service of meals to patients each Saturday lunchtime.

Now studying medicine at Imperial College, London, he said: “It was a fantastic experience working with incredibly friendly staff and it gave me a real insight into palliative and end of life care.

“I enjoyed working with patients and their families and each one taught me such a lot about communicating.”

Gap year student Fiona Dewar helped initially on the in-patient unit at teatime and then in day hospice on a Thursday.

She said: “Staff, volunteers and patients have been so welcoming and all have taught me many valuable things that I will carry with me when studying medicine at university.

“It has been an absolute privilege to work alongside such dedicated and caring people and I have been truly inspired. St Teresa’s will always be a part of me and my future in medicine.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Aileen at enquiries@darlingtonhospice.org.uk or telephone (01325) 254321.