Local hospice service provider and charity, Sidmouth Hospice at Home (SHaH), welcomed over 70 of its dedicated volunteers at its annual ‘Thank You’ event at Kennaway House to mark National Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteers were treated to a welcome reception with refreshments provided by local company, Fords South West Ltd, and entertainment from the Sidmouth Steppers. The dance group are also supporting the organisation through donations as their charity of choice for the year. A buffet supper followed, where volunteers were joined by charity, Trustee and specialist nurse team colleagues in the Cellar Bar.

Among the guests were Mary MacKinnon, charity nurse team member from 1987 to 2000, along with her daughter, Rachael MacKinnon, Sidmouth Hospice at Home clinical nurse specialist for many years and now a valued volunteer, as part of their board of Trustees.

The charity provides specialist end of life care to those living with life-limiting illness across the Sid Valley community, in the comfort of patients' homes. Their service is widely viewed as exemplary, with the particular ‘Sidmouth Model’ of care considered innovative, as it enables free 24-hour specialist nursing care to be delivered at home and available for an extended period of time, with the aim of providing greater patient support and wellbeing for family members, before and beyond bereavement.

The organisation benefits from the dedicated volunteer cohort, who are each trained in key areas of bereavement, communication skills and dementia support, enabling them to provide sitting services, host wellbeing and complimentary therapy sessions at the SHaH Sidford HQ, offer transport services and participate in fundraising events. The charity says this results in an ability to provide unique ‘wrap-around’ support of the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of their patients and the wider community.

Support Services Manager, Vanessa James said: “Our charity currently funds a team of 12 clinical nurse specialists and operates via an administrative team equivalent to just four full-time staff, our CEO included. It’s a small charity, with a big vision, and an even bigger ‘family’ of dedicated volunteers that are quite remarkable.

“Volunteering can be rewarding for all involved and the positive impact statistics from our last year are truly amazing, with over a quarter of a million minutes of kindness provided, more than 5,600 miles of transport services delivered, and over 400 points of contact made with those who are bereaved. Our volunteers have also enabled us to double the amount of Wellbeing Day Sessions that we host at our Sidford HQ in the last eight months alone! They represent our charity and community so positively, and we can’t thank them enough.”

The charity meets its annual costs – set to run in excess of £880,000 in the coming year - through donations alone, as it currently receives no government funding to support free end-of-life palliative services for the Sidmouth and wider Sid Valley community of more than 14,400.

Sidmouth Hospice at Home invites Sid Valley residents to access support or volunteering options via its Information Hub at 48 High Street Sidmouth, and welcomes the opportunity for community and corporate partnerships. For more information, contact the SHaH team on 01395 578707 or visit sidmouthhospiceathome.org.uk