Volunteers at Blythe House have provided over 800 support visits to local people who are elderly, vulnerable or isolated during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Community Volunteer team has been on hand to help with tasks including shopping, prescription collections, transport to medical appointments, telephone companionship and pet walking, over the last three months.

Dedicated volunteers have also collected personal protective equipment, kindly donated by local individuals and businesses, for the hospice’s nurses and healthcare assistants to continue providing palliative and end of life care safely.

The Community Volunteer programme provides support and companionship to Blythe House patients, who are affected by life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and neurological conditions like motor neurone disease.

Following the lockdown announcement in March, the team offered to help anyone across the local community, who needed extra support during the unprecedented circumstances.

Volunteers helped to spread the word about the service by giving their time, in-line with Government exercise restrictions, to post over 5,000 Here to Help leaflets in more than 300 residential streets and 65 essential shops.

Vicci Wild and Julie Forrest have taken the huge task of coordinating the volunteer efforts across the High Peak, including in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Chinley, Combs, Dove Holes, Furness Vale, Hayfield, Longnor, New Mills, Quarnford, Tunstead Milton and Whaley Bridge.

Vicci said: ‘We send our sincere and heartfelt thanks to our volunteers who have gone above and beyond over the last few, difficult months, to support local people who are in need. Volunteers have been creative in thinking of substitutions for items on a shopping list that were not available; returning twice to the pharmacy for prescription mix ups; phoning daily to a vulnerable person with limited support to check they are OK; and so much more.

‘We want our volunteers to know that they have not just been filling requests for medication pickups, filling transportation needs, filling cupboards and pantries; they are filling hearts. Their simple gestures of kindness resonate across our community. Just knowing that this service exists is enough to get some people through.’

Julie added: ‘When lockdown was announced, we were not quite sure what the community response would look like, but we could not be prouder of our fantastic team of volunteers and supporters! Our flexible team, which has grown from 22 members to almost 50 since March, has ensured that every single request for help has been filled.

‘We listen to the needs of those around us, and adapt our services to fill those needs in the here and now. Sixty-one of the families that the Community Volunteer team is helping have had no prior connection to the hospice. The sense that we are in our community, for our community has never been clearer.’

Hospice services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out more about the Community Volunteer team, including how to volunteer.

Feature photo shows:

  • Jon Davey walking Stanley in Buxton [owner self-isolated for 12 weeks]
  • Liz Burns providing transport to The Christie hospital for a patient to have chemotherapy treatment
  • Denise Bloom providing telephone support