One of the effects of the current Covid19 crisis on the hospice is the impact on our volunteer force. Many of our lovely, regular volunteers now find themselves confined to their homes and unable to help out, whether in the hospice, the Superstore or Donation Centre, the shops or the community.

While some of our activity has been curtailed, due to Government guidelines, the Inpatient Unit (IPU) at the hospice is full and the therapy rooms in the Wellbeing Centre have been converted to an extra six bedrooms, to accept patients from Eastbourne DGH. Nursing staff from the community have been drafted in to help, as have some of our Community Shop managers. Many of our volunteers, who have never done the host role on the IPU before, now find themselves dressed up in scrubs and taking on a new role.

All staff and volunteers having patient contact now have to don their scrubs when they arrive and this has led to the creation of a new host role; laundry! The amount of laundry created by the daily laundering of scrubs has almost become a full-time role. One other new role is door handle cleaning, a bit like painting the Forth Road Bridge (once you finish you have to start again!).

Volunteers have been augmented by a number of senior staff; David, our Chief Executive, was seen doing the breakfast host shift on Saturday and Sunday recently, Helen (Host Supervisor) and Andrew (Front of House Manager) are also filling in when required. Sarah from the Fundraising Team and Pauline from the Uckfield Community shop also became laundry ladies for a shift or two.

What is striking is the amazing level of positivity about the place and the willingness of ordinary people to step up and take on whatever roles are necessary. Staff and volunteers are working closely (well not too closely) together to ensure that our patients get the best care they can. Many volunteers are now doing multiple shifts a week, often in unfamiliar roles, giving their time generously and graciously.

We have always known that our staff and volunteers are special, but this crisis has highlighted just how special and important they truly are. Thank you to each and every one for rallying to the call. To those of our volunteer force who are unable to support us at present, we wish you good health and look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.