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How Volunteers Week led to my career with ellenor hospice

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 May 2019

Leah is now an area fundraiser for ellenor hospice after first joining during Volunteer Week. Leah Poppy

Leah is now an area fundraiser for ellenor hospice after first joining during Volunteer Week. Leah Poppy

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Volunteer Week starts on Saturday and one Gravesend woman says taking part could even open up a new career as it did for her.

Leah Poppy volunteered for the ellenor hospice in Gravesend, and now she has become its area fundraiser.

She started off small, but the work became so rewarding, she ended up staying.

Leah said: "Now that I work here, I can see how hospice care makes a difference to people's lives."

Volunteers' Week takes place from June 1-7 every year offering an opportunity for anybody who has ever considered volunteering at ellenor to find out more about what it required of them.

For 24-year-old Leah, her journey with ellenor first began when she visited her beloved Aunt Mary in the hospice.

Following Mary's death, Leah went on to take up the challenge of volunteering, and today she works full-time as an ellenor area fundraiser for Gravesham and Maidstone.

Reflecting on what volunteers can bring to a position, she said it can provide a wealth of experiences.

She said: "I was first attracted to volunteer at ellenor because I saw the palliative nursing team care for my aunt, and the kindness they showed both in looking after her and in helping our whole family through an extremely tough time, really stayed with me. I wanted to give something back.

"Volunteers doing the same as me can get a sense of satisfaction in supporting a great cause like ellenor, the buzz you get from it, is something that's hard to match elsewhere - you know you really are making a difference.

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"Volunteers gain from being a part of a wider ellenor community, meeting and working with people with a vast range of experiences and from vastly diverse backgrounds. Plus volunteers can learn valuable practical skills - budgeting and events organising or admin work, for instance - that they can take with them later into the professional sphere.

"I found as an ellenor volunteer that I could play to my existing strengths while developing ones I never knew I had."

She added: "Volunteers to everything that enables ellenor to deliver care and support both to patients facing life-limiting conditions and their families. This could be anything from working on reception, helping with admin or in the laundry at our hospice to driving people to appointments, raising funds or helping out at charity events and in our shops.

"I loved helping out at bucket collections across Kent and hearing people's stories - just knowing that every penny going into the bucket is going to support a great cause made me smile.

"I'm young so the world of work is fairly new to me, and, looking back, it never occurred to me then that volunteering would be my path into working in hospice care professionally.

"Volunteering showed me that, although the work at ellenor can be challenging, ultimately it is so, so worthwhile. That's why it offers such a brilliant sense of satisfaction.

"Having gained experience in my voluntary role, I knew ellenor was somewhere I wanted to work permanently. When the position of area fundraiser came up, I was well placed to apply and I've been working here for over a year now.

"I work in a hugely busy marketing and fundraising team with lovely people, working with staff and volunteers to encourage local businesses, individuals and organisations to run fundraising events.

"Would I want to be doing something else? Certainly not at the moment - I love it here. I know the whole team - whether employees or volunteers - makes a real difference, every day. That's true job satisfaction."

Anyone wanting to perhaps follow her footsteps while making a positive difference to the lives of young people and adults in your community can do so.

Phone ellenor on 01474 320007 or email hr@ellenor.org and join as a volunteer during a week that the UK celebrates volunteers and says thank you to them for the contribution that they make.

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