Ashgate Hospicecare launches #30for30 challenge on year of anniversary

This year, Ashgate Hospicecare will be celebrating 30 years of delivering patient care to those with life-limiting illnesses across north Derbyshire.

The #30for30 volunteering campaign, which is being launched at the start of the year, will aim to encourage people who may not have thought about volunteering with the Hospice before to donate 30 hours of their time in 2018 for Ashgate Hospicecare’s 30th anniversary.

A special website has been launched to give new and existing volunteers a place to log their hours and promote the diverse range of volunteer roles the Hospice has to offer.

Sophie Dolling, 37, and Valerie Francis, 72, spoke about their experience of volunteering on the Inpatient Unit at the Hospice, about the friendships they’ve made and why everybody should give volunteering a go.

S: I’ve been volunteering here for about two years now. My children had just started going to school, so I had the daytime free. I wanted to do something good with my time and I knew about Ashgate Hospicecare so I thought I would apply to volunteer here. Valerie and I chat to patients on the ward, ask them what they’d like for lunch and serve teas and coffees.

V: I retired about 12 years ago and started volunteering here about a year and a half ago. My family is all grown up, so I’m not relied on to look after my family anymore. I wanted to give something back to the community and I enjoy it very much. Sophie and I do the same hours. We’re supposed to do about 3 hours a week, but we always do a bit more. We never get paid overtime though!

We try to make people laugh. My own motto is ‘Keep smiling and make other people smile’. That’s what keeps you going and it’s what keeps patients going as well.

S: When we tell people that we volunteer in a hospice, some people can’t understand why we enjoy it, but it’s because we get to spend time talking to patients. We think that if we can make one person smile, then it’s worth it. It can be hard when you get to know patients and their families if the patient dies, but it’s also really nice to get to know people.

You get attached to some people and you can see that they can’t wait to chat to you. It’s so lovely when you walk in and their face lights up because they’ve been waiting to talk to you. We could be there for half an hour or so having a chat and it doesn’t matter. There are enough volunteers so you don’t have to rush or worry about getting on with things quickly. We’ll always cover each other if the other is chatting to a patient.

V: It’s sometimes difficult to remember every patient’s name, they don’t have name tags you know! I once saw a patient I recognised whose name I’d forgotten and when I went into her room I just said, “You’re the jam lady!” It made her smile because she had told us before that she made jam and we’d remembered. When you leave to go home, you feel good in yourself.

S: You almost feel selfish because you feel so good. It’s because you’re doing something positive for someone.

V:  Exactly. To volunteer here you’ve always got to think about other people. You’ve got to be sociable and make people laugh if you can. I enjoy it so much that I’ve now got two more people to apply to volunteer!

S: Valerie’s on commission you know!

I agree, a good volunteer should be caring but you’ve also got to be tactful and be able to judge the situation. If a patient is giving you one word answers, you need to let them sleep.

S: It’s a great environment to volunteer in. We didn’t know each other before we started and now the four of us who do this shift together are best buddies! We chat on a group message and meet up outside of here socially. The staff do anything for you too – it’s like a big family here.

V: We get along with other volunteers across the Hospice too. We all feel that we’re all just trying our best.

S: If anybody is considering volunteering, I’d say just do it! It’s a little bit of time out of your week. You can still fit it in doing other things if you help at breakfast like us or come for a few hours at the weekend. It’s what’s needed in the community; volunteers are needed/ to keep the Hospice going.

Why not celebrate our 30th anniversary with us by donating 30 hours of your time to help patients across north Derbyshire with a life-limiting illness?

Take on the #30for30 challenge to set yourself apart from the crowd, learn something new, meet new people and make a real difference. For more information, please visit or contact Jane Briggs, Voluntary Services Manager on 01246 568801 or email

Don’t just take our word for it, volunteering has proven to have so many benefits for people of all ages including include improvements in physical and mental health, quality of life, positive behaviour change and improved social support, together with changes in skills, inclusion and employment. For more information, please visit

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