Between the 8th and 14th February, we are celebrating Student Volunteering Week and the wonderful students who volunteer at St Wilfrid’s. In this post we speak to Jess Avery, a second year Social Sciences student at Brighton University, who currently volunteers as a Host on our Inpatient Unit.


Jess only began volunteering at the hospice in December 2020 but has almost five years of volunteering experience under her belt. Prior to her Host role at the hospice, she volunteered at the Sunrise of Eastbourne care home in Upper King’s Drive before the pandemic made it too difficult.

Not long after, a community engagement module within her university course required her to volunteer. She was aware of St Wilfrid’s from regular visits to the Street Café with her grandparents, so she instantly knew that the hospice was where she wanted to go. ‘It came at just the right time,’ she said.

The Host role is split in to three shifts: morning, afternoon and evening, of which Jess usually does the two latter. We asked her what a typical shift entails:

‘I start my shift by changing into scrubs as soon as I arrive and then meet the other volunteers to discuss the upcoming shift.

‘The afternoon shift usually involves taking patients’ lunch orders if the Hosts on the morning shift haven’t already done so and then giving them out at lunchtime. We will also assist the patients with anything else they need at that time.

‘We are required to change our PPE frequently. I had never used PPE before volunteering at the hospice, so I have learnt so much about it. It is so important in our role to ensure that we are not only protecting ourselves, but the patients, their families and our own families, too.’

From speaking to Jess, it’s clear that she is passionate about her role and being able to make a difference to people’s lives. Not only does volunteering benefit her CV, but she gets as much out of it as those who she is helping.

‘I have always had it in me to want to help people, whether that be in professional roles or in my friendship group,' she said. 

‘I have formed some great friendships with the residents at the care home and the patients at the hospice. For some of them, every day would often be the same, so me going in to see them would be someone new to talk to and it was a great feeling knowing that I’m making a difference to their day.

Volunteers at the hospice

‘It is also really rewarding to engage with other volunteers and staff at the hospice. I wouldn’t usually meet these people in other settings and it’s great to hear about their lives.

‘A lot of the volunteers are older than me; some of them are retired nurses or have had loved ones who have been cared for by the hospice, but I don’t feel left out because of the age gap at all. The dynamic of ages is crucial and from the first shift I felt so welcome.

‘To someone who doesn’t know much about the hospice it sounds strange to say this, but it is such a kind and welcoming place. Everyone is so friendly and helpful; it completely reflects the hospice as a whole and what it stands for.’

If you would like to volunteer for St Wilfrid’s Hospice, please contact our Voluntary Services team via email at: [email protected]