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P27 Volunteer hosts
  1. Karen Clarke
  1. St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne, Eastbourne, UK


Background Autumn 2013 the hospice relocates to its new 20-bedded facility. To offer a more worthwhile and less segregated volunteering experience, a generic volunteer role was created to replace Ward Helpers, Receptionists and Day Therapy Helpers.


  • Offer a positive, friendly greeting to visitors via a well-informed, approachable “Host”

  • Create a volunteer ‘workforce’ aligned to the vision of the hospice as a community resource

  • Develop a flexible team able to respond to changing demands

  • Provide peer support and integration.


  • Consultation meetings: (i) volunteers affected and (ii) wider volunteer community. Meeting 1: Design and vision for the new building; Meeting 2: Potential role changes and consultation; Meeting 3: New roles and invitation to express interest.

  • Consultation with a volunteer focus group resulting in:

    • creation of volunteer Host Liaison role (to oversee the volunteer Hosts on duty)

    • weekly rotation of Hosts

    • Host ‘uniform’.

  • Visits to the new hospice.


  • 77 existing volunteers have applied and been offered Host roles

  • 49 unsolicited external applications received.

  • Feedback:

    • “I now feel very excited and privileged to be part of the beginning of the new life of the Hospice.”

    • the“meeting did a good job of clarifying what’s proposed and is another step towards the new set-up.... All feeling very positive”

    • “... having walked around the new build today, and with your input as to how life will probably be I cannot think of anything better to offer our town and neighbourhood”.

Application Volunteers: Vital to the future of Hospice Care” (2012), states that volunteers are vital to the high quality experience of those who seek help from hospices. The role of volunteer Hosts demonstrates a new approach to volunteering and offers volunteers a rewarding and life enhancing experience.

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