Aquila Muir – Volunteer manager at Skanda Vale Hospice

Hi, my name is Aquila and I’m the volunteer manager at Skanda Vale Hospice. If you’re looking for some seriously life enhancing experiences then you’ve come to the right place!

Hand on heart, we believe we have some of the most rewarding and inspiring voluntary jobs around.

So what makes our volunteering opportunities so special? Here’s a few reasons…

Why you’ll want to volunteer with us:

Volunteer led service

In most hospices, volunteers are a bit of an add-on – there to support the paid staff. Here it’s different; our hospice is run by full time professional volunteers (unpaid monks and nuns from Skanda Vale Monastery). Because volunteering is at the heart of everything we do, it makes our hospice a really positive and generous place to work.

Love & respect

We go to great lengths to make sure our volunteers feel valued and listened to, offering appropriate guidance, support and training. We have a deep gratitude for their amazing work, so we’ll cover your expenses, local travel costs and can help with child care. For certain roles we can also arrange accredited training. Good eh!

Healthcare volunteers

We have a bank of 40+ clinicians (doctors, consultants, nurses, carers etc) who dedicate their spare time to serving in the hospice. We can offer healthcare professionals a very high standard of free accommodation and lodging. Think of it as a horizon expanding holiday experience; much better than sizzling on the beach!

What’s it like to volunteer in a hospice?

In their own words, our team members share what it’s like helping out at Skanda Vale Hospice:

  • A view from the kitchen
    Cooking for Hospice patients and their families can be quite challenging. In fact, when I first started cooking at the Skanda Vale day-care centre I felt there were more people with food allergies than without!

    Most patients had special dietary requirements, from particular foodstuffs to textures of meals. All in all, it meant a new approach to cooking, more like juggling in the kitchen.

    Sometimes I tried a new meal for a particular patient and they just weren’t interested, then I came to understand that that’s the way it is for some patients, and they have good days and bad days. Sometimes it was probably more difficult for a patient to eat a meal than for me to cook it.

    Now I love the challenges. It’s always rewarding cooking for people in the Hospice, providing a small measure of comfort for those unable to cook for themselves, getting to know what they enjoy and doing what I enjoy doing most – cooking.

    Now we have a whole new kitchen with fabulous equipment, and I’m really looking forward to a whole new experience with old and new friends. Now that’s rewarding.

    Richard Fairall

  • Each patient, each volunteer is different
    Everybody brings something unique and beautiful with them.

    From discussing mini skirts, knee high leather boots and jumping on the back of your boyfriend’s motorbike in the 60’s, to life as a Buddhist monk in the UK in the late 80’s, to learning how to speak like and act like a Scot.

    Seeing a patient try food they have never tried before (in their 70’s and 80’s) whilst hearing about trekking adventures in India.

    Helping someone fulfill a life long dream by being up close and personal with an elephant, just weeks before they die.

    All of this happens whilst just being with people who have either been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, or who know that they are in the last months, weeks, days of their life.

    Sometimes you won’t feel like you’re doing anything, but actually just being, and allowing someone to be themselves without judgment is doing a lot.

    Everybody is different but we are all fundamentally the same – we all want to feel loved, cared for, secure. And above all we want to be free and open as the end of our life approaches.

    You don’t need to have special training to be an ear when someone needs to talk, to be arms when someone needs to be hugged – all you need is an open mind and an open heart, and a desire to help and to give.

    Our youngest volunteer is in her twenties and our oldest volunteer is in her 70’s – however old you are and whatever you capabilities there is a place for everyone!

    Sister Ally

  • In the garden
    We’re creating a spectacular new garden that patients can enjoy whether they are walking, in wheelchairs or even on trolley beds.

    The garden will be the backdrop for so much of our daily activities, both inside and outside the new hospice.

    It needs to work equally well for group activities, fun, working and personal quiet reflection. We want to attract lots of wildlife with diverse planting.

    We want to make a garden that is holistic in its total vision, and at the same time has a different accent for everyone – a garden lush in sensory enrichment, and a garden that always provides a beautiful journey.

    We have been planning this garden for over a year now and I personally can’t wait to build it. A huge amount of work awaits us, not only in its creation, but also in its maintenance and ongoing development.

    Come and join us create this uplifting space – a space that will help to create tranquillity and peace of mind for those with a life limiting illness.

    Brother Francis

  • It's not quite a Jaguar...
    We are blessed to live in West Wales with its rolling green hills, sparkling river valleys, stunning coastline and the lovely weather! (OK, I was getting carried away).

    As a volunteer driver I travel through this beautiful landscape, down unexplored roads to places whose names I often cannot pronounce.

    At the end of these journeys are people eagerly waiting to visit our Day Care Centre. For many, the volunteer drivers provide a real lifeline, enabling them to leave their house perhaps for just once a week.

    All have stories to share.

    One recent, first time visitor, said that it was “like winning the lottery” – I was disappointed to learn that she was not referring to driving with me in the car, but to the wonderful day she had spent at the Day Care Centre.

    If you can drive and want to bring some joy into people’s lives why not give it a try?

    Brother Andy

hospice volunteering

Our volunteering roles

We have a really broad range of jobs available. Try something new, or go with what you know… have a look at the options and let us know what you think.

  • Nursing – Get a fresh perspective with some truly compassionate care experiences. With free luxury accommodation to sweeten the deal!
  • Clinicians – Consultants, GP’s, healthcare assistants – join our team of volunteer healthcare professionals and get a warm glow inside. Free luxury board and lodging included.
  • Driving – Be a lifeline. For some patients, it will be only time they get to leave the house each week.
  • Retail – Help with valuing and selling antiques and collectibles on eBay, and in our super chic boutique.
  • Creative therapies – Share your arts, crafts, knitting etc with patients and their families.
  • Catering – Many of our patients can’t (or don’t) eat very well at home. Put a cheesy grin on someone’s face!
  • Complementary therapy – We have vacancies for aromatherapists, reflexologists and massage therapists.
  • Caring & bereavement care – Help our patients and their families through their most difficult times. We can provide full accredited training for some of these roles.
  • Gardening & maintenance – Prefer a less patient-facing role? We have plans for a gorgeous new garden.
  • Reception & admin – Your smile will be the first thing our patients see when they come through the door. (Free tubes of whitening toothpaste for all our receptionists!)

The hospitality extended to us voluntary helpers and visitors leaves us feeling that we are given far more than we give. - Neil Platt

Skills based volunteering

Do you have a special skill that you would like to offer? We get help from all sorts of professionals: solicitors, photographers, printers, IT experts, builders, conservationists, graphic designers, to name but a few.

If you’ve got a bit of enthusiasm, we’ll definitely be able to find a special assignment for you, and we can work out your hours around your current work and family commitments.

Open days

Most people like to dip their toe in the bath before they jump in. Same here. So why not come to a volunteer open day at the hospice and see if it’s right for you?

It’s a really relaxed and informal get together, where you can meet our team and find out more about the different roles on offer, over a cheesy scone and some tea. Upcoming dates will be announced here, or join our email mailing list to be sure you don’t miss out.

Here are some pictures from our last open day:

So just to recap – here’s the offer:
  • A range of health enhancing, mind expanding, heart fulfilling experiences, scientifically proven to induce states of deep satisfaction, peace, social cohesion and lasting happiness!
  • We’ll cover your expenses, local travel and may be able to help with child care costs.
  • The chance to develop your skills, or learn new ones.
  • Hours to suit you.

OK. Let’s do this!

Call us on 01559 371222, or enter your details below to find out more – Aquila will get back to you asap.

Your name:

Your phone number:

Your email:

Your email again:

Your message: