A local hospice is calling for more volunteers to support its free care to people with life-limiting illnesses, and their families.

The Dorothy House Hospice Care lost some of its volunteers during the early period of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021 when the lockdowns took place.

Now it is calling for more volunteers to step forward and join its team with a variety of roles available for those who are able to donate some of their time.

Rowena Midgley, head of retail at Dorothy House, said: “During the Covid period we lost many retail volunteers and had only 423, plus we lost one of our shops.

“We struggle to recruit more volunteers but we have managed to increase their number by 150.

“We are asking people to give a shift by volunteering in one of our 27 shops. We want to empower people to come into retail and make that change.”

Dorothy House covers approximately 700 square miles and a community of more than half a million people and has ten inpatient beds at Winsley.

Wiltshire Times: Wayne De Leeuw, chief executive of Dorothy House Hospice Care, has a vision of society where death can be talked about as being a part of life.Wayne De Leeuw, chief executive of Dorothy House Hospice Care, has a vision of society where death can be talked about as being a part of life. (Image: Dorothy House Hospice Care)

The charity’s chief executive Wayne De Leeuw revealed they had cared for more than 3,800 patients and families last year and are expecting to care for more than 4,000 this year.

“We want to make sure that everyone who needs our care is able to access it when and where they need it,” he said.

Mr De Leeuw is keen to encourage families to engage in palliative care and end-of-life discussions with their loved ones to de-stigmatize death.

“It is critical that we ensure that everyone has access to outstanding palliative and end-of-life care,” he said.

“We are trying to de-stigmatize death and dying. Our vision is of a society where death is a part of life. We should all feel able to have those conversations.”

Dorothy House Hospice raised more than £3.5 million from fundraising activities last year and is now targeting £4 million.

Most of the Hospice’s income comes from legacies left in wills, donations, income from its retail shops, sponsored activities, events and adventure challenges, with around 20 per cent of overall funding coming from NHS contracts.

The Hospice also derives around £650,000 in income from the 17,000 people who play the monthly Local Hospice Lottery.

Dorothy House has just signed up its youngest Ambassador, Seb Chester-Phillips, 21, whose mother died in 2015 when he was 12 and received end-of-life care at Winsley.

He is encouraging people to look death in the face and be positive about the grieving process, saying it is good to be positive and to move forward.

“Dorothy House was there for my mum and my family every step of the way. The nurses were genuine angels.

“I know how it feels to grow up as a kid with a heart full of pain, anger and confusion.

“I also know how it feels when I use the energy from that to thrive and develop a profound sense of fulfilment.

“If my experience can help kids, who are in similar situations that I was once in, regain their sense of enthusiasm and fulfilment, I’d be over the moon.”

Kitty Dimbleby, daughter of BBC presenter David Dimbleby, became an ambassador for Dorothy House Hospice Care in 2022.

“My personal experience of living with a lifelong illness and chronic pain gives me a unique perspective on the vital role wellbeing can play in supporting mental health.

“Dorothy House has helped many people close to me and I am proud to be their -wellbeing ambassador,” she said.

If you wish to volunteer or donate, call 01225 722988, email info@dorothyhouse-hospice.org.uk, or click here.