Clinical volunteer at Willen Hospice
Bev, Clinical volunteer at Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice logoIn 2021 Willen Hospice celebrated its 40th anniversary, and as the only adult care hospice covering Milton Keynes, the Hospice, its staff and volunteers are a beacon of light during immensely difficult times.

Annually, the Hospice cares for an average of 300 people at its centre, and around 700 more are supported in their own homes. Putting that collective arm around the new town comes with a hefty price tag.

It costs £9 a minute, or £13,000 a week to fund its exceptional services, and volunteers are key.

“We rely heavily on the passionate support we get from so many people who freely give up their time,” said Voluntary Services Coordinator Lorraine McDonald.

Annually, supporters donate more than 72,000 hours to the Hospice – whether shaking buckets at events, maintaining the gardens or helping in administration.

There is simply so much to do.

Volunteer Jackie works in the Kiln Farm warehouse: “I come in on a Wednesday morning and we’re a really good group of friends together – the Wednesday Girls,” she said.

“As the years have gone by we’ve been there to support each other. We sort donations and always make time for coffee and a chat.”

Bev assists the in-patient unit after school.

“I find it enriching to ease the workload of the medical staff,” she said, “Volunteering helps me develop my communication skills and be sensitive to different situations. The environment is always positive with lots of smiles, but my best moment was being there to give a patient a hug and offer some consolation when she was having a particularly bad day.”

Jackie and Bev are just two of more than 600 volunteers who regularly give their time, and Willen Hospice would love you to swell that number.

“Volunteering is a fantastic way to make new friends and be part of a fantastic team whilst giving back to your local community,” said Lorraine.

“It’s also an opportunity to learn new skills and boost your CV with a wide variety of roles on offer, or for those who have retired and may have more time on their hands it’s a wonderful way to keep using valuable skills you already have.

“Volunteering is flexible and can be arranged to work around the hours you are able to give.  Above all, our volunteers at Willen simply love the feeling of fulfilment that comes with playing an important part in our ability to deliver our much needed care.”

Whether your interest is in helping with ward support, retail, administration, complementary therapy, eBay or fundraising, the Hospice would love to hear from you.

Visit willen-hospice.org.uk/volunteers

Milton Keynes Museum logoAnyone who has ever visited Milton Keynes Museum will have come away with a heap of new knowledge, willingly shared by some of its many enthusiastic, friendly volunteers.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Museum, and there are currently more than 150 involved in its smooth running.

They work in all areas; Room guides, cafe and shop staff, administrators, educators, event organisers, maintenance workers, gardeners and collection specialists among them.

Roy Laurent
Room guide Roy Laurent in the Parlour at Milton Keynes Museum

And they work at all levels, including management, giving anything from just a few hours a month, to several days a week.

“It is their enthusiasm and knowledge that has taken the Museum to the next level,” said education and outreach officer Surbhi Bhambri, “They really are the backbone of the operation, and without their continued commitment, the Museum simply wouldn’t be the success it is today.”

Those currently giving their time are aged 16 years-old to 91 and come from all walks of life.

“Their work has been wholly responsible for the Museum being recognised as an important tourist attraction, and a welcoming place to spend leisure time, Surbhi said, “Over the past 47 years they have steered it from a small collection to an award-winning heritage site.”

The Museum is famed for being hands-on, and it also has a whole lot going on to tempt all ages; you can stroll its street of shops which faithfully recreates the popular stores of days gone by, to the communication gallery which has examples of some of the earliest telephones, and some of those mobile phones we all remember from a couple of decades ago!

There are fascinating looks at transport (some of its more unusual items include a tram, a sedan chair and a Sinclair C5), and a recent music exhibition by Wired For Sound and Marshall Amplification gave the history hub plenty of rock n’ roll swagger!

Volunteers love its variety every bit as much as the visitors, and their efforts are rewarded in many ways.

“They enjoy new, exciting experiences, and can learn and develop new skills in a social, friendly environment, Surbhi explained, “…and it’s also a chance to contribute to the ownership of their community.”

Volunteers also benefit from discounts in the shop and tea room, entry to other local heritage sites, specific training, and there is free entry to the Museum for friends and family.

Visitor feedback constantly praises the volunteers for making visits so enjoyable, and in 2019 their efforts were acknowledged by royalty, when they were the collective recipient of the highest award that a voluntary group can receive in the UK – the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Milton Keynes Museum is currently looking to engage new volunteers in all areas, and with all skill sets. Full training will be given.

“We would love to hear from anyone who wants to be part of a friendly team and loves the community,” Surbhi added, “It would be great to have some young recruits too. If you’ve got time to spare, we’ll be only too happy to help you spend it well!”

Get in touch: volunteer@mkmuseum.org.uk

MK Gallery Logo“Volunteers are essential to the smooth running of the gallery,” said volunteer manager Annette Parmar, at MK Gallery “They are the friendly, welcoming and helpful face of the gallery, they support art exhibitions, usher at events and give tours of our exhibitions. They also volunteer in our shop and help in our art workshops and fun days.”

The gallery currently has 205 people who support its events, but on any given month around 90 volunteers step forward to help, and the gallery is keen to welcome more. 

“We are looking for all sorts of people, especially those who like supporting the public and meeting people,” and you don’t need to be an art expert to apply, “No knowledge of art is needed, just an interest and a thirst for learning,” Annette promised.

volunteering at MK GAllery
Volunteers at the MK Gallery help to enhance the visitor experience

One of the best things about volunteering is that it can fit around your timetable – not the other way around: “We are open six days a week from 10am till late and are looking for people who operate on different timetables,” Annette promises, “We love having students support us in the holiday times, or people who are working and can only volunteer in the evenings, or people who want to build their skills or confidence or anyone who would like to be around art and other people who love art.

“We are welcoming and inclusive and accessible to everyone. We are a team that looks after each other. We love to provide opportunities to enhance people’s lives, we are a great place to volunteer if you would like to meet people and be in an interesting environment.”

Those who do give their time are rewarded with discounts in the gallery shop, cafe and cinema, enjoy exclusive behind the scenes opportunities with the exhibition team and director, and have the chance to attend previews.

“I feel proud of what we offer to our volunteers,” Annette told us, “I love my job because it enhances people’s lives; it enhances the experience of our volunteers, staff and our visitors. I would love to welcome more people to join our team and have access to this wonderful opportunity.”

> Get involved: Call Annette on 01908 558305 or email
aparmar@mkgallery.org

> If you want to volunteer but aren’t sure where to start, visit communityactionmk.org
to search for volunteering opportunities that work for you.