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National Volunteer Week - Monday May 17 until Sunday May 23 2021. Recognise. Reconnect. Reimagine.

Ballarat Hospice Care CEO, Mrs. Carita Clancy said “Our volunteers are important and valued every day. National Volunteer Week is a great opportunity to share one of many volunteer stories that shows the individual impact volunteering has on the people, the volunteer, communities and organisations”.

Mr. John Elliott began volunteering for Ballarat Hospice Care early 2020. He was motivated to make a difference in the community where he lived. While COVID-19 reduced volunteer activity, there remained an opportunity to connect with isolated patients and their carers through a regular telephone call as a safe option for everyone.

Robert (pseudonym), a Ballarat Hospice Care patient has received weekly phone calls from John since August 2020. The practice has become ingrained in both men’s weekly calendars, as a special time for conversation and sharing of ideas.

Robert reflected on how he valued the conversation with another male who is a contemporary and a peer,

“It’s a time where we talk about everything and anything, from politics and religion, to articles or books we have read and then of course there is football”.

The opportunity for Robert to connect with a volunteer was identified by a Ballarat Hospice Care Palliative Care Nurse, after talking with Robert and his wife about the impact of restricted social contact during COVID-19 lockdowns and through Robert’s illness. Robert thought it was a great opportunity and in his words he “jumped at it”!

“The weekly call is one of the important markers of the week for me.

“Often my wife will be on the other phone and the three of us have a great three way talk.”

John sums up his experience by saying

“For me it is a sacrosanct time. It is the best general conversation I have outside my family each week and I would never give it up as I really enjoy our conversation together.

“I think I gain much more than I give.

“Robert is a fabulous and generous person and I have learnt so much from him and my volunteer experience.”

While many people may have experienced increased feelings of loneliness or isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteering is a way to connect with others to reduce those feelings.

Mrs. Clancy said “We are so incredibly grateful to our volunteers at Ballarat Hospice Care and to all volunteers who give so generously of their time, skills and passion to make a difference to the lives of others through their kindness and willingness.”

Ballarat Hospice Care is hosting a Volunteer Breakfast during National Volunteer Week to thank and acknowledge their volunteers for their dedication and commitment.