Volunteer army started by taking over the tea trolley

June 17th, 2019

Edna Cooke was the first person to volunteer at Mary Potter Hospice. She was at the head of what is now a volunteer army of more than 600 people, who work for the Hospice throughout the Wellington region.

Edna arrived at the Mary Potter Ward at Calvary Hospital in 1976 and asked what she could do to help. Charge Nurse Sister Margaret Lancaster suggested she take around the morning tea trolley. Volunteers still take charge of the tea trolley – and the drinks trolley – and offer a huge range of other skills.

Volunteers now contribute more 60,000 hours a year to Mary Potter Hospice and this is critical in keeping the service free for everybody. In the Inpatient Unit in Newtown volunteers serve meals and drinks, work on reception and administration, provide massage therapy and do the flowers.

In the Hospice Day Units in Newtown, Porirua and Kāpiti they provide transport to patients, art therapy and cook meals. A free biography service is offered with trained volunteer biographers, who can make home visits or work with people from one of the Hospice bases.

As demand grows for more volunteers in the community Companion Volunteers provide companionship to patients at home while carers take a break, keep isolated people company or support people to complete activities that are important to them.

Mary Potter Hospice must raise $7 million this year to run its operation. Volunteers are critical to its fundraising effort, working in Hospice shops as retail assistants, electrical goods testers, valuers, truck drivers and in administration support. Volunteer art curators arrange exhibitions in the Inpatient Unit with artwork that is for sale in support of the Hospice.

There are also many one-off roles for volunteers – Hospice Strawberry Festival assistants, Street Appeal collectors and collection box checkers, and Christmas gift wrappers. They wash cars, they wash windows and look after the gardens.

All Board members on the Mary Potter Hospice Foundation are volunteers.

To find out more about volunteering at Mary Potter Hospice please click here.