Shining a spotlight on children's hospice volunteers

Together for Short Lives is pleased to present the results of a survey commissioned to find out the extent and nature of volunteering within children’s hospices. We have published a new report to shine a spotlight on the impact of volunteering and the invaluable role it plays in hospice care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions; as well as to consider the future of volunteering in this sector.

We found that over 17,000 volunteers give their time to work for a children’s hospice – giving 38,000 hours of their time each week, which equates to an annual value of £23 million.

The report gives a fantastic insight into the number and range of children’s hospice volunteers working across the UK. The average hospice was found to have 353 volunteers, providing a massive boost to their capacity to support children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and their families. For instance, one hospice commented on how their volunteers helped with “the day to day care of the children – activities, mealtimes and trips out.”

Many children’s hospices demonstrated that they are working with volunteers in innovative ways to help improve the services offered to children and their families; for instance helping in families’ homes and providing sibling support.

One survey respondent commented “We have recently started a home volunteer project. Volunteers go into family homes and undertake domestic tasks – to help siblings with homework or do painting and decorating. We are expanding the roles to take on befriending of young adults and children.”

 Volunteer Managers in children’s hospices also indicated that there is room for growth in volunteering, particularly in care support and community roles.

David Pastor, Chief Executive Officer at Claire House Children’s Hospice, says “This is a fascinating report, giving a thorough picture of the current nature of volunteering within children’s hospices. It highlights that there is great potential to use volunteers in more innovative ways, and the report must be seen by children’s hospices as an opportunity to consider how volunteers could be used to extend the reach and the quality of the services they deliver.”

We are committed to promoting the role of volunteers and supporting children’s hospice services to extend the contribution that volunteers make. Following on from this report, we will also be developing a dedicated resource for volunteering, in collaboration with Help the Hospices, to provide practical support to hospice and palliative care services.

You can download the full report, ‘Shining a spotlight on children’s hospice volunteers’, for free, as well as a helpful summary sheet.

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