Congratulations to our brilliant volunteers, Pam and Eileen, who together have helped raise an impressive £200k for the Hospice! Pam and Eileen raised the fantastic funds through the ‘Collection Box Scheme’, which was set up in 2011 and sees them encourage local shops, supermarkets, pubs and cafes to host collection tins for our charity.

We recently sat down with them to find out more about their experience of volunteering at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and what they like most about it…

Raising over £200,000 for the Hospice is an impressive amount – we hope you’re feeling proud?

Pam: Oh definitely! It’s incredible to know that our time and energy has helped raise such a significant figure for such a worthwhile charity.

Eileen: I couldn’t agree more - coming from somebody who has experienced the support and care of Birmingham St Mary’s, I know the difference the Hospice can make when a loved one has been diagnosed with illness. £200,000 is a lot of money and will allow the Hospice to continue providing vital care to those who need it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your volunteering roles?

Eileen: As Collection Box Coordinators, Pam and I raise much-needed funds for the Hospice. We do this by contacting local businesses, shops, pubs, cafes and supermarkets to see if they would like to have a Birmingham St Mary’s collection tin by their till to hopefully encourage people to donate their loose change. We also go out and replace full tins with new ones, as well as help clean the collection boxes and get them ready for distribution. It’s rare to go into a pub or shop and not hear somebody tell you about the wonderful care Birmingham St Mary’s gave to their brother, aunt, husband etc. In fact, it’s really humbling to hear those stories.     

Pam: It’s amazing to think that everybody’s small change can accumulate to £200,000 but the collection boxes don’t just help raise funds for the Hospice – they’re also a great way of raising awareness of the vital work that happens here.

What do you like most about this role?

Eileen: It’s totally clichéd but I’m always impressed by the generosity of ordinary folk. Just recently, I collected a tin from a pub and the staff had donated all of their bar tips! It’s always a joy to go into places and hear how the Hospice has supported them and why they want to give back.

Pam: I agree, it’s so uplifting to hear people’s stories. Whether people tell you their personal stories of the care they or their family or friends have experienced or stories where they’ve taken on a fundraising challenge, you always come away feeling uplifted. Raising funds is fantastic but being able to spread the knowledge of the Hospice, that’s priceless.

Why did you want to volunteer at the Hospice?

Pam: I had actually applied for a volunteer-coordinator job here several years ago and I remember being really impressed with the charity and the work it was doing. At the time, I didn’t want a full time job so the position went to somebody else but I always kept in mind what a fantastic organisation the Hospice is. I think it says a lot about how that one interview led me to come back and volunteer.

Eileen: I too was impressed by the staff and their commitment to the care of their patients. My brother was cared for by the Hospice a few years ago and I will always be grateful for the outstanding support they provided to him and our family during that difficult time. Whilst my brother was being cared for, he suggested that I could volunteer for Birmingham St Mary’s. It was only when I started to really look into it that I realised the Hospice offered lots of different volunteering roles to suit all sorts of people, which is how I ended up supporting the fundraising and finance teams.

Pam: I had a similar experience. It was only after my partner and I independently began volunteering as hospice drivers at different hospices, driving patients to and from our local Day Hospices, that we found out about the other roles available. The Hospice has so many different volunteering roles – whatever skills you’ve got or are looking to get, there will be something here for you. 

As well as volunteering as Collection Box Coordinators, do you volunteer in any other roles at the Hospice?

Eileen: I’m also a Volunteer Ambassador, which sees me attending various fundraising events to give speeches about the Hospice, helping to spread the message of the fantastic work we do. I also volunteer with the finance team, offering admin and office support. Pam and I are founding members of The Kings Norton Fundraising Group as well, organising quizzes and stalls at local events to raise more funds for the Hospice.

Pam: I too have been involved in various other roles, including the Hospice choir and as an ambassador but now mainly support the fundraising team with collections and events. I sometimes help out in the Day Hospice too and occasionally drive patients to and from their homes or offer hospitality support. There I help with serving food and drinks and chat with patients who visit the Hospice’s day facility. I really enjoy volunteering at the Day Hospice as I think it’s amazing to see first-hand how funds raised from fundraising activities – including the collection tins – are making a genuine difference to people’s lives.  

How do you fit volunteering into your busy lives?

Pam: Volunteering can be really flexible to suit you. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours, a morning or afternoon every now and then, the staff are always grateful for your help. I usually volunteer at least one day a week but occasionally I’ll change this depending on what other things are going on. It’s nice knowing that nothing is set in stone – it’s your choice and staff are happy to support you in whatever help you want to offer.

Finally, what would you say to someone who was thinking of volunteering here?

Eileen: Go for it! Volunteers are such a big part of the Hospice and the Hospice is always on the lookout for new faces to bring new ideas and suggestions.

Pam: Don’t worry if you can’t see a role advertised that immediately captures your attention. If you are interested in volunteering and have a skills that you think the Hospice could use, then get in contact.  For example, the role of Collection Box Co-ordinator didn’t exist before Eileen got all the systems in place so who knows what you could do to help. The Hospice will continue to grow as a charity by getting new volunteers involved. The aim is ultimately to help each other and through offering your time to the Hospice, for however long that may be and in whatever role suits you, you could help make a real difference to the lives of local people and their loved ones.

At Birmingham St Mary’s our network of brilliant volunteers plays a crucial role in making sure we can provide such a wide range of care to people living across Birmingham and Sandwell. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please click here to find out more information.