Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari, Co-chairs of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care.
Today is the United Nations (UN) International Volunteer Day, a day on which volunteering is celebrated around the world. The UN describes this as a day which recognises: “the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis, helping to save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow”. The theme this year is ‘Volunteers Act First: Here. Everywhere’.
It feels as if this theme could have been developed specially for volunteers in hospice and palliative care. So what better time to take a moment to stop and reflect on the countless volunteers worldwide who work in hospice and palliative care. A time to reflect on and celebrate the many different ways in which volunteers make a difference to people of all ages and backgrounds facing the end of life and helping both them and their families to ‘continue living their lives with dignity’ for as long a time as they have left.
We have been very moved by what volunteers have told us of their experiences in hospice and palliative care as part of our story project; one of several that our EAPC Task Force on Volunteering is working on at present. They have told us of their commitment to making the lives of those facing the end of life better; of wanting to make a difference by helping in practical ways or by ‘ being there’ to provide emotional and spiritual support. They tell us that this work can be both difficult and rewarding, and they share the difference that this makes to their own lives in understanding more about death, dying and bereavement.
Volunteers are such an important part of hospice and palliative care, but their role is not always well recognised. It was this that led us to develop ‘Voice of Volunteering. the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care. The Charter aims to promote the vital role of volunteers in hospice and palliative care and their contribution to holistic care of patients to the sustainability of services.
Volunteers do seem to touch the hearts of many of us who work in hospice and palliative care and more than 2,000 people from 26 countries have signed the Charter so far, either online or on paper. Their comments, such as the one below, have highlighted how important volunteers are to the work that we do.
“Volunteers, as core members of our communities, support and sustain the value of palliative care in society … would not be possible without volunteers! Thank you.”
So on this International Volunteer Day, take a moment to stop and reflect, and if you can, spend some time with volunteers in your own workplace or setting and thank them for the difference that they make to the lives of others.
Thank you to volunteers in hospice and palliative care ‘Here. Everywhere.’ Please show your support for their amazing work by signing Voice of Volunteering: the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care.
Find out more about the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care.
- Sign the Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care at: http://bit.ly/EAPCVolunteeringCharter
- Read more posts about volunteering in hospice and palliative care on the EAPC Blog.