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We care for terminally ill children and their families at our hospice in Oxford, in hospital and at home. The families that we help to care for often face challenges in managing day-to-day life at home. This is because, quite often, at least one parent is a full-time carer to their child, which means they are left with little time to deal with other daily chores and activities at home.

We’re pleased to be able to offer the families we care our Home Volunteer Support service. This service, and the role of the volunteer, varies depending on what help is needed. Some of the tasks they can provide help with could be shopping, gardening and housework. Volunteers can also lend a hand on days out, playing with siblings and supporting them with their homework.

Kate Barklie, our Clinical and Home Support Volunteer Co-ordinator, said,

‘We work with families to identify which member of the family may need some extra support, and what the most helpful service would be. We then match them to our Home Support Volunteers who are fully trained by us. We want to help support our families in every way we can at the hospice, but also at home. This is a really versatile volunteering role that will make a huge difference to the lives to local families.’


Meet Helen

Helen is currently a Home Support Volunteer for Jack’s family in Aylesbury. Helen has had a long connection with the charity. Her sister Shona was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in 1998 when she was 8 years old, and Helen was 11 at the time. It wasn’t long until their parents found out about Helen & Douglas, and the support they offer, and they came for a weekend visit. This visit provided their parents some respite from caring for Shona.

A photo of Helen with Jack's Mum, Jack and Jack's brother

Helen told us,

‘It was such a vibrant and colourful place where Shona and I could play with an assortment of arts and crafts, roll around in the sensory room and make as much noise as possible in the music rooms with the drum kit, all of which was not possible at home.


‘On reflection it also allowed a couple of days for both my parents to relax and wind down as Shona was receiving 24-hour care. The people working at the Hospice were always there to support every need and made sure it was a fun place for my sister and I to enjoy through the difficult times.

‘Growing up, the memories of Helen & Douglas House and how they supported the family in the year before Shona passed have always stuck with me. So as an adult, when I took a break from work to go travelling, on my return I had six months before I needed to go back to full time work. I wanted to volunteer at Helen & Douglas House as a thank you.


‘I was coming into the hospice three days per week, helping on reception, in the admin office and supporting the Care Team with other siblings that were visiting with their families. It was the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and also really made me appreciate how much more the hospice help patients and their families. It’s not just a place for fun, but somewhere to get support and guidance from the staff.

A photo of Helen volunteering at a Helen & Douglas event

‘On returning to full time work, I wanted to look at other ways I could continue to support the hospice. That’s when I was told about the Home Support Volunteer project. I was matched with the most incredible family who live locally to me and I visit them for two hours per week.


‘I offer support around the house with cleaning and tidying, all of which may seem like small tasks but when you are a parent looking after a terminally ill child. The ironing may never seem a priority, but still keeps mounting up.


‘I have been with the family now for over a year and I can see that my support helps them, but they also help me. I am in a job with a lot of responsibility and so, for me, the two hours are a break away from my life where I can switch off, natter about the week, enjoy a cup of tea and feel like I am making a difference.

A photo of Helen volunteering at a Helen & Douglas event

Helen whose son Jack is cared for by Helen & Douglas House said,

‘Helen is brilliant. She has helped organise my house post renovation. She helps with anything that needs doing with a fabulous can-do attitude. I really look forward to her visits as sometimes I do feel isolated and lonely.’


Become a Helen & Douglas House volunteer 

Do you have a few hours a week or every other week which could be spent helping a local family? Helen & Douglas House desperately need more volunteers in Buckinghamshire.

Become a Home Support Volunteer

We are currently looking for Home Support Volunteers in Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire to help provide support to the families we care for.

Alternatively email volunteering@helenanddouglas.org.uk or call: 01865 794749.

Become a Community & Events Volunteer

Helen also helps at Helen & Douglas House fundraising events.

You can find out more about how to become a Community & Events Volunteer on our website.