Helle, who is Danish, has been an arts and crafts volunteer for the hospice for the last 6 years. She works part-time at Oxford University but still finds time to volunteer for the charity. She helps capture special memories by producing wonderful memory quilts and wall hangings for the local families who receive care from Helen & Douglas House. She has also run arts and crafts workshops for the children.
Helle said ‘Being part of the Helen & Douglas House family has enriched me in ways I could not have imagined. I feel very privileged to be invited along on local families’ journeys I have been in contact with.
‘I do feel there is a misconception about the hospice movement generally – sadness, sorrow etc – and through sorrow is part of it, by the very nature of a hospice, there is so much more to Helen & Douglas House. It is quite, life-affirming and takes joy in every individual.
‘Helen & Douglas House offers fantastic support for local families; emotionally, practically, enriching with activities, days out… the list is endless. It is a very rewarding experience to volunteer for this charity and you can do as much or as little as you are able to. I am not able to come in on a regular basis as I work, so my volunteering has always been more ad hoc working from home.
‘The best thing about volunteering for Helen & Douglas House is the enthusiasm of the staff and other volunteers – they are marvellous people.’
One of the families Helle has produced a memory quilt for is Vicky, Keith, Jessica and James Newell. Jessica, aged 5, has a life-shortening neurological condition called Leigh’s Disease and has been coming to Helen & Douglas House for respite stays with her parents since September 2014.
Vicky said ‘When we were approached by the family support team at Helen & Douglas House and asked if we would like a memory quilt making for our daughter, Jessica we were intrigued to find out more.
‘Helle is a wonderfully creative and talented volunteer who has spent 160 hours of her time making a quilt which captures the essence of Jessica, her hobbies, loves and the places that we as a family have made our memories. Over the months we have seen this work of art take shape and have been overwhelmed by the love and time that Helle has poured into it.
‘This support has helped us to collate our memories and bring them to life in something we can treasure forever. This is just one of the many life-changing things that the volunteers at Helen & Douglas House have done for our family. I would like to thank them for everything they do.’
Jenny Rigby from Helen & Douglas House said ‘We are so grateful to Helle and all our other wonderful volunteers for donating their time which is so valuable to us. All our volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of families with terminally ill children whether it be through helping families in their own home with housework or gardening, with arts and crafts or helping raise money in one of our shops. I would like to say a massive thank you to all our volunteers for everything you have done for us over the last year and continue to do for us.’
Helen & Douglas House is currently looking for shop volunteers so pop into your local charity shop to find out more about the great opportunities we may have. We are also looking for receptionists, catering and house-keeping volunteers at the hospice in Oxford.