This week (1 – 7 June 2021) we are celebrating Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the contribution volunteers make to charities, and other organisations, through the selfless donation of their time. The Rowans Hospice Charity has over 1400 valued Volunteers who dedicate their time to support the many Services across the organisation and are instrumental in the continued success of the Charity. In this blog post, Lynda, one of our Volunteers, tells us what it is like volunteering for Rowans Hospice Charity during the Pandemic.
Hello, my name is Lynda. I am a member of the Emsworth Afternoon Flower Club and I have been a Volunteer in the Flower Room at Rowans Hospice Charity for about nine years. The atmosphere at the Hospice is calm and welcoming. Everyone is very friendly, from the nurses, administration colleagues, cleaners, cooks, to all of the other Volunteers.
The Charity is very well supported by local organisations and supermarkets who often donate flowers which we hugely appreciate. We also receive donations of funeral flowers, which we carefully take apart, to then recreate a beautiful display to put in reception or around the common areas of the Hospice. Sometimes, we come into a room full of all kinds of flowers and foliage, and sometimes we come into only a handful of bouquets. It is the flower room team’s job to work with the donations we have, and create colourful and welcoming displays for all areas of the Hospice.
Before the Pandemic, there were a group of ladies who volunteered to do flower arranging for the Hospice. We were a great team and worked on a rota basis from Monday to Friday. We would arrange the vases of flowers and deliver them to the patients’ rooms, often chatting with the patient whilst we arranged the vase, or sorted out any flowers they had received from friends and relatives. If a new patient was arriving the nurses would let us know so we could make sure there were fresh flowers to welcome them.
Our flower arranging skills do not stop at vases and displays for the Ward and Common areas. Over the years, we have been asked to make up flowers for all kinds of occasions including weddings, Mother’s Day and Valentine celebrations and of course, Christmas decorations.
During the Pandemic, the way we work and move around the Hospice has really changed. Many of the Volunteers had to shield, so I went from volunteering on two days per month with a friend, to three days per week. Unfortunately, the Flower Room is quite small, so due to social distancing rules I am only able to work in there on my own.
There have been lots of other changes put into place at the Hospice to keep us all safe. I have had to enter Rowans wearing a face mask, sign in with my fob, sanitise my hands and collect the flower room keys from reception. On the short walk to the Flower Room, I have to make sure I keep my distance from anyone else in the corridor. I am also regularly undertaking Covid tests to ensure I am not unknowingly carrying the Virus.
With the wards and many other areas closed off to keep the patients safe, I make up as many vases of flowers as possible. There is a trolley outside of the Ward area which I leave the displays on, and the nurses or one of the cleaners will collect them and take to the patients.
The flower displays to welcome people into Reception are changed regularly to keep them fresh. Patients are still able to have visitors, and the Hospice has still had key members of staff working during the lockdowns so we wanted to make sure the reception area looks warm and inviting.
With the reduced number of staff and volunteers since March 2020, it still feels a very safe and friendly environment to be in. I feel very thankful that I have been able to help out during these challenging times.
Thank you, Lynda, for sharing your story. We really appreciate your contribution as a volunteer.