Emily Efstathiou undertook a work placement at Blythe House in 2019, whilst she was studying Business at Buxton and Leek College – an experience she believes has ‘influenced and guided’ her to where she is today, working as a marketing apprentice at a local company.

Emily, who’s from Buxton, said: ‘What a wonderful organisation Blythe House is; they support so many individuals who have a life-limiting illness or who are bereaved. My Grandma used to visit the hospice every week, she loved it, visiting Blythe House enabled her to enjoy her end of life in a positive and happy environment. The reason for me contacting Blythe House was from my Grandma’s experience, but also knowing they have many job roles within the organisation – I wanted to see if any were of my interest.

‘Reflecting now on my time spent at Blythe House, I believe my experience has influenced and guided me to where I am at today. The sector I enjoyed working in the most while at Blythe House was the marketing department. I am now currently working as a marketing assistant for a local company.

‘What I enjoyed most was getting to know the team and most of all, the patients. Learning about the organisation and how they make a difference to those who need support the most – also how Blythe House supports not only the patients themselves but their families too.

‘I would really recommend being apart of Blythe House if that’s either working within the team or as a volunteer. My biggest takeaway was that you feel rewarded for helping those who need your support. Seeing the patients happy is the biggest reward as you know you’ve made a difference. It was really heartwarming.’

Susan Seddon started volunteering at Blythe House’s Whaley Bridge shop in 2020, as a way of making new friends and giving something back to the community, after retiring from her role in retail.

Susan, who’s from High Lane, explained: ‘My family live in the High Peak – including my mum in Chinley and my daughter in Furness Vale – and so I am regularly here in the area seeing my loved ones.

‘After I retired from my managerial position at a large department store, I really missed the social aspect of work and wanted to do something where I’d feel I was making a difference and that I was giving something back.

‘I love my role at the hospice shop – I am happy to get involved in whatever needs doing – bringing new stock to the shop floor, and displaying it – even just making cups of tea for my fellow volunteers!

‘It is such a great bunch of people; everyone is so kind and friendly. We have a good laugh and we all know we’re working towards the same goal – to support the fantastic work of a local charity.’

Find out more about volunteering opportunities at Blythe House’s Whaley Bridge shop – and other retail outlets in Bakewell, Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills.

The Helen’s Trust Chatsworth 10k, proudly sponsored by BRM Solicitors, returns to the stunning Chatsworth estate on Sunday 18th September 2022.

The event was established in 2008 with the aim of raising funds to support Helen’s Trust. The circular, mixed terrain route takes in the grounds of the ‘most beautiful stately home in the world*’ and is a firm favourite with both professional and amateur runners.

As demand for Hospice at Home care increased across North Derbyshire, Helen’s Trust formed a partnership with Blythe House in 2020. Together the charities provide a the highest standard of care to more local patients, who wish to stay in their own home at the end of their life.

Every runner who takes part is helping to raise crucial funds for hospice services across the Derbyshire Dales, North East Derbyshire and High Peak. The charities receive just 13% of their funding from the government and must raise the remaining amount through events like this one; local charity shops and donations.

Rachael Gee, fundraising and events coordinator, who organises the event, said: ‘The Chatsworth 10k is one of the biggest fundraising events in our calendar, and we are extremely excited to welcome hundreds of runners to Chatsworth later this year, to help raise another incredible amount of money to fund hospice care across our communities. Last year’s event raised a staggering £33,500, so we are looking forward to seeing if we can beat this target!

‘We’re so very grateful to everyone who supports the event in anyway, to ensure it is such a success and that as much money as possible is raised to directly support patient care – we could not do it without you.’

Rob Woodhead, Director at BRM Solicitors, commented: ‘We have worked with Helen’s Trust for several years, and we are delighted at the opportunity to be the sponsor of the 2022 Helen’s Trust Chatsworth 10k.

‘The Chatsworth 10k has become a sporting highlight in the local area, and we look forward to seeing runners tackle the challenging course and families enjoying the fun run.’

Register online for the Chatsworth 10k and 3k fun run – entry to the 10k race includes chip-timed results, water on the course, a snack on completion, and a medal.

Throughout July, BRM Solicitors is very kindly hosting a free will writing month in aid of Blythe House and Helen’s Trust. Find out more and book an appointment today.

* Source.

A new monthly drop off session is set to take place for Derbyshire Dales residents to support local hospice care.

Staff and volunteers from the hospice are set to host the first session at Ashford War Memorial Institute on Greaves Lane, in Ashford in the Water from 1 to 3pm on Wednesday 27th July.

Anyone is welcome to drop off items that they would like to give a second lease of life by donating them to the charity, for sale in hospice shops across the community including in Bakewell.

Items that people might like to donate include good quality clothing, shoes and accessories, books, CDs, DVDs, bed linen, curtains, tablecloths, bric-a-brac, pictures, homeware, small electrical items and jewellery.

Marie Brown, manager at the hospice’s Bakewell shop on Matlock Street, said: ‘The charity’s five local shops and online stores raised £525,000 to fund local hospice care and services throughout 2021/22.

‘We have incredible support from everyone across our local communities and we’re so very grateful – we couldn’t reach these incredible totals without you. We hope the new drop off point will be a convenient and central place in the Dales for supporters to travel to, to pass on donated items for us to sell to fund local care.’

During 2021, the charity’s hugely successful Hospice at Home service provided over 20,000 hours of care to local patients who wished to stay in the comfort of their own home at the end of their life, including in Bakewell, Baslow, Bradwell, Calver, Cressbrook, Curbar, Eyam, Grindleford, Little Longstone, Longnor, Matlock, Pilsley, Rowsley, Tansley, Two Dales, Winster and Youlgrave.

Future drop in sessions will take place between 1 and 3pm on the last Wednesday of every month at the same venue:

  • 31st August
  • 28th September
  • 26th October
  • 30th November

For more information, call 01629 259320 or visit our shops webpage.

Sophie Wheeldon started working at Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust in January 2022, as our community fundraiser.

Sophie representing the charity at an event at the Devonshire Dome in Buxton

Her role sees her head out to towns and villages across the High Peak, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire, to meet hospice supporters who are raising money to fund vital services in our area. People might be hosting events, undertaking challenges, making things, housing a collection pot in their business, or generally helping to raise essential funds for, and awareness of, the charity.

Sophie had always thought how ‘lovely’ it would be to ‘give something back’ to the hospice, after she accessed services here back in 2017, following her diagnosis with cervical cancer.

Sophie, who’s from Harpur Hill, explained: ‘I was diagnosed in November 2016 with stage 1B1 cervical cancer* – I had no symptoms. I had been for my routine smear appointment at my GP, which detected abnormal cells, and so I was then asked to go for a colposcopy (a test to take a closer look at your cervix). Following this, the doctor who had done the test called me when I was at work. He told me I had cancer.

Sophie on holiday in California in 2017 before her surgery

‘I was referred to the Royal Derby Hospital for further treatment. There, I was firstly given another colposcopy and following this, I was given a loop diathermy, which removes abnormal cells from the cervix. However, when my results came back, my consultant said that the margins were not clear enough so I would need to have surgery. My cancer was progressing quickly and so I had to make a decision immediately.

‘I was given two options: one, a full hysterectomy, or two, a radical trachelectomy (surgery to remove the cervix, nearby tissues and lymph nodes). The second option is a fertility sparing option; I was only 26 at the time and I had always known I wanted to have children, therefore I immediately dismissed the idea of a hysterectomy. I had no clue what the second option even was, so when it was explained to me, I decided that would be best.

‘I had my radical trachelectomy on the 1st of February 2017, I was in surgery for six hours with two surgeons. Following this I was in hospital for three days, luckily my lymph nodes came back clear whic

h meant I didn’t need to have chemo or radiotherapy. I also had multiple MRI scans before and after my surgery.

‘After my surgery and when I was out of hospital, my mum suggested finding out if Blythe House would be able to help and support me. Close family members and friends had use the services at the hospice, and my GP referred me. I started to attend in the April 2017 after I had time to recover from my operation and was able to drive and get around again.

A drawing Sophie did of the hospice garden flowers during her time here in 2017

‘I used to attend the day services at the hospice with lots of activities, art, crafts, painting, complementary therapies and counselling services. We also focused on meditation, which I found really helpful as I used to get very anxious whenever I had to return to Derby hospital for appointments. Blythe House helped me to learn techniques, which allowed me to stay calm and be kinder to myself.

‘I found my time at the hospice really helpful to have some “me time”, where I could chat with people in similar situations. All the staff were lovely, friendly and welcoming, and I made some great bonds with the people I met.

‘I have been cancer free for five years now! I have routine appointments with my consultant in Derby every six months; this will continue for the rest of my life, so they are keeping a close eye on me. I always said that if I could get just one person to go for their smear test by sharing my story, I will feel like something good has come from it all. I’ve always been very open about what I have been through as I think it’s really important that we encourage women to attend their smears; it could save their life… it saved mine. I’m very lucky to have had my little miracle boy, William, in May 2020, and I am forever grateful that due to the skills and expertise of the staff at Derby hospital, I was able to have him.

‘I had always kept an eye on Blythe House and had it in the back of my mind that I would love to work there. I was then pregnant and on maternity leave so it wasn’t the best time for a career change! Then when I had been back at work after having William, I saw a post on the website advertising for the community fundraiser role, and thought, “well that sounds like me! I could do that job!” I thought how lovely it would be to give something back to an organisation who helped me so much when I really needed it, how rewarding! So I went for it! I’m so glad that I did, I absolutely love my job.

‘I love that every day is different; you never know what might pop up. I love that I can help people and that people are so thankful to have us in the area, I also love being a bit daft which is helpful in my role; working with Blythe Bear (our hospice mascot), doing an abseil, climbing a mountain, stuffing 2,500 Easter chicks with Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, the list goes on. It’s so varied, the team is so lovely, friendly and you really feel like you’re part of something good.’

‘It’s been an amazing opportunity to shadow someone in my chosen career, and to help people like my Dad to make their everyday lives better.’

Becky Howes volunteered with our physiotherapy and occupational therapy team between January and June 2022, on work placement during her time at college studying health and social care.

Becky (left) with Miriam, OT

Becky, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, will find out her college results in the next few weeks and is hoping to study occupational therapy (OT) at university in Sheffield from September.

Mick, Becky’s dad, received care and support from the hospice when he was in remission from larynx cancer (affecting the voice box) back in 2015.

Becky explained: ‘I have been volunteering with Miriam, the hospice’s OT, and Angela, physiotherapist, for one day per week since January 2022. As part of my college studies, I needed to undertake a work placement and wanted to gain more experience of the career that I will hopefully be going into.

‘I was originally placed in a primary school but I didn’t enjoy it very much as I didn’t feel I was getting a lot of out of it for my future. My Mum suggested I get in touch with Blythe House, so I contacted Julie, the hospice volunteer manager, and explained my circumstances. Julie said that Miriam and Angela would definitely be able to support me.

‘I have been shadowing Miriam and Angela with their work in the hospice including taking part in the fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness group. I have also headed out on home visits with the team. I have watched Angela give patients different exercises to support their fitness and strength, and Miriam has given advice and sourced equipment for patients who need extra support to get around their home more easily, for example stair lifts and hand rails.

‘Miriam and Angela also set me a task to create a physio and OT worksheet for them to utilise with patients. They gave me an example of what they were looking for, and I created an original document for Blythe House. They will now be able to use this to go through with patients to ensure they’re setting goals and reaching milestones during their physio and OT programmes.

‘It has been a great experience to see “behind the scenes” and provide a good insight into what I’ll be studying at university. It has been very eye-opening to see what goes on behind closed doors, and how Miriam and Angela are able to support patients who have a life-limiting illness. It has been an amazing opportunity to shadow someone in my chosen career, and to help people like my Dad to make their everyday lives better.’

Find out more about volunteering at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust to support your studies, or learn more about a career you might be interested in pursuing, email: volunteering@blythehouse.co.uk or visit our volunteer webpage.

Rachel Dennett is a healthcare assistant (HCA) in the hugely successful Hospice at Home team at Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust.

Since the service began back in 2016, it has supported over 1,000 local people to die in the comfortable and safe surroundings of their own home, if that is their wish.

Before becoming a HCA, Rachel was a community volunteer at the hospice, supporting patients and their loved ones across the High Peak with tasks including shopping, running errands, gardening, dog walking, and respite.

Rachel, who lives in Glossop, explained: ‘I saw an advert for Hospice at Home HCAs and had been fancying it for a while. I am a self-employed bookkeeper by trade, but I absolutely loved my volunteering role at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust, and I got a real buzz out of it. I spoke to Julie [the volunteer manager at the hospice] about the HCA position, and she encouraged me to go for it.

‘My father died in 2018, and in his last few days, the Shakespeare Hospice at Home team in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon cared for him. I saw what a massive difference the HCAs made to both him and the rest of the family. Their support made an awful situation more bearable.

‘I always wanted to do a job where I could get out of bed and say: “I want to go to work today.” I now say that I have been waiting 35 years to do this job. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to go into someone’s home when they are nearing the end of their lives, and to be able to support them in whatever way they wish. It may be helping a patient to have a wash or take a shower, giving them food or refreshments, attending to personal care including helping them to go to the toilet, being there so that a family member or loved one can have a rest or take a shower, or simply just holding hands and talking.

‘You’re often seen as a safe person to talk to. Patients confide in you about their worries and fears, and their wishes for the end of their life and beyond. They sometimes say things to you that they might be too worried to talk to their family about. There are sometimes tears, but often a lot of laughter.

‘My days as a HCA vary massively – I will usually undertake three or four visits per day – travelling around the High Peak and Hope Valley. Every day is different. You tell the coordinating team the days and times that you are able to work, and they arrange care to suit patients’ needs, and flexibility for all staff. You don’t need to have any qualifications for this role either – it is definitely more about the person that you are.

‘The support from our managers and the coordinating team – who are highly skilled nurses and experienced healthcare staff – is amazing too. If you are at a patient’s home and you’re unsure of anything, you know someone is just a phone call away, no matter what the time of day.’

The demand for our Hospice at Home service is huge, and it is our privilege to provide the highest standard of care to patients who wish to remain at home at the end of their life. We are growing our Hospice at Home team to provide more day and night care across the Derbyshire Dales, Chesterfield areas and High Peak.

Benefits of working for us:

  • Competitive pay
  • Day and night time work available
  • Flexible hours/ working arrangements
  • Regular training sessions
  • Team led by nurses
  • Generous mileage allowance
  • Paid travel between patients
  • Holiday and sick pay

If you have palliative care experience and are committed to giving patients the choice to be nursed in their own home, visit our careers page for more information.

Charlie Barnes became a community volunteer at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust in 2020, after previously volunteering as a humanist pastor at Manchester Royal Infirmary, following his retirement.

Charlie, who is from Chinley, explains: ‘When I decided to retire from my career in classical music back in 2016, I felt that I needed a new direction. Around the time I retired, I started training with Humanists UK. My time spent speaking to patients on hospital wards gave me a brief insight into how some individuals need that connection. Nobody wants to be away from home. This did prove difficult at times approaching patient’s bedsides and not knowing whether they wanted the company or not. The brief connections I made as a humanist pastor made me realise the value of volunteering in the care sector, and how the act of listening to someone can make all the difference.

‘When the first lockdown began in March 2020, hospital visitations were restricted, and my volunteering was put on hold. Once the initial weeks of lockdown had calmed down, I looked into other areas of voluntary work I could do. I joined Blythe House’s “Here to Help” drive during the Covid-19 restrictions, which involved contacting people who were experiencing loneliness. Since then, the Community Volunteer programme has returned to providing support and companionship for individuals with a life-limiting illness across the local community.

‘My volunteering can vary on a day-to-day basis. I may be offering a carer some respite by sitting with their loved one whilst the carer runs some errands, or driving a patient to hospital visits. I can see how it can benefit the carer as well as the patient to have a different face around; someone different to talk to who is not a loved one or a medical professional; that can be the distraction they may need from their circumstances.

‘The volunteer team is incredibly supportive through the training process and they check in on you regularly. They are your first point of call, and they are always there to listen to any concerns or queries you may have during your volunteer journey. I have found it instrumental to have Julie, the hospice’s volunteer manager, make the initial contact to patients because she establishes what their needs are, and how we can help them. This means that we are always putting the patient’s needs first, and I feel like I can put my best foot forward in supporting them.

‘When wearing my badge as a community volunteer, I feel a lot of pride and a sense of identity. It enables me to approach patients with a sense of purpose. I would class myself as a shy person, and in a new social setting, I am particularly reserved in many respects. But, I find that wearing my volunteer badge gives me a role and it defines me, giving me permission to meet patients.

‘I have made many meaningful connections during my time volunteering. For example, one particular patient who I had visited during his last year of life. When he died, his daughter reached out to me to let me know that my visits had a positive impact on her father. I will cherish the time spent with this genuine man and the good relationship I had created by visiting his home.

‘The biggest difference I can make between volunteering in a hospital and volunteering for a hospice is the lasting connections I have made with patients in the community. My time volunteering at the hospital gave me brief moments with people who I never saw again, and didn’t know how they were keeping. The hospital would define my visits, but volunteering for Blythe House and Helen’s Trust, you get to know someone in their personal surroundings in their home.

‘There is so much reward when volunteering. It is full of rich encounters that leave you with so much gratitude when spending time with each individual you meet. Sometimes it is simply the company that patients are looking for in your visits. Someone to listen to them. It gives you a chance to discover new parts of yourself that you may never thought you were capable of doing. I would recommend to anyone unsure whether to volunteer, to just give it a go.’

Learn more about the range of volunteer roles at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust – including the community volunteer programme – and apply online.

June was referred to Blythe House in June 2021, after she had developed peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in her hands and feet due to the course of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. June attends Therapeutic Thursdays at the hospice and has received physio and occupational therapy.

June – right – with Cathy, hospice, volunteer

The Buxworth resident said: ‘I cannot thank Blythe House enough for the support they have given me and my family. When I think back to last summer, where I was in a really tough place physically and mentally, effectively bed bound, to where I am now, it goes to show how essential Blythe House is as a local charity. Now I have more and more independence gained from the valuable support Blythe House gave to me.

‘I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2020. My course of treatment was chemotherapy. A common side effect to chemotherapy is losing your nerve sensitivity. I didn’t immediately have this side effect. I started getting the tingling sensation at around ten to 11 weeks of chemo. Within three weeks of the initial tingling sensation, I could no longer walk.

‘I got to the point where being stuck in my bedroom was leaving my mental health in a really bad place. My niece decided I needed additional help. I was receiving the necessary medication from the district nurses, but this was about gaining my independence back again. This is when we reached out to Blythe House for help.

‘When the Community Hub team visited me at my house, I had immediate trust with them. They were so kind and patient with me. I didn’t feel like the same person pre-chemotherapy treatment. I had lost a lot of weight from my cancer treatment and the nerve damage had left me with no strength.

‘There were immediate changes by the initial visit and assessment of my home; I was hopeful that they would be able to help. They sorted out equipment for me, so I could move around my house more easily and to support my carers. This was a huge change that enabled me to get out of my bedroom more easily. I was given an exercise programme which gave me the strength to eat my dinner myself.

‘When my physical strength improved, it meant that I could start going to events and seeing friends who I had sorely missed. When I could see the daily improvements from my physio and occupational therapy, I started thinking more about my self-care.

‘I now go to Therapeutic Thursdays at the hospice, which gives me a chance to meet other people who are going through something similar to me and gives my partner a break.’

Miriam Haddock, occupational therapist at Blythe House who has worked closely with June during her rehabilitation for the past year, added: ‘When we first met June back in the summer of 2021 we could see how physically and mentally her cancer treatment had affected her.

‘Our focus is “what matters to you”, and for June she no longer had her independence. She has done whatever we have asked and been so motivated. June is like a different person; so much more confident. Her mood has lifted, and she seems to be enjoying life much more.’

This week, we’re thanking our incredible team of over 190 volunteers, who donate hundreds of hours of their time to support hospice care every week.

Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust is commemorating national Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), a celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

The hospice provides care and support to families affected by life-limiting illness and bereavement across the High Peak, Derbyshire Dales and North East Derbyshire.

Volunteers play a huge role in providing vital services at the hospice’s Community Hub in Chapel-en-le-Frith; in patient’s homes; at fundraising events; and in the charity’s shops in Bakewell, Buxton, Chapel, New Mills and Whaley Bridge.

Scott

June

June Igo has volunteered at the hospice’s New Mills shop since 2008, after retiring from her career in teaching. She said: ‘I think what is so special about volunteering during your retirement is that you get to try new skills and dabble in different job roles without the pressure you have in a paid job.’

Scott Beswick supports the hospice’s fundraising team by distributing collection pots to businesses in his hometown, Buxton. He said: ‘I have been a fundraiser for the hospice for several years, and approached the fundraising team to pursue other opportunities. I wanted to continue supporting Blythe House and this role was perfect for me as it fits around my work and home life. I enjoy visiting local businesses and seeing them and their customers support Blythe House.’

Sarah and her son

Sarah Rowland, from a small village near Bakewell, has been a solicitor for 25 years and became a trustee of Helen’s Trust in 2014. She said: ‘It is really rewarding to be part of a small, local charity because you can see the difference that the team makes to people in our community who need support at a difficult time.’

Julie Forrest, volunteer manager at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust, said: ‘We are grateful to our amazing volunteers every single day of the year, but it is so nice to have a week of celebrations dedicated to thanking them for their invaluable contribution to local hospice services. We are indebted to every individual volunteer, because the hospice quite simply would not exist without them, and we thank them sincerely for all of their support.’

If you could spare just three hours of your time per week to support local hospice care by volunteering, you can get in touch by: