One day in 2005 I walked into the St Columbas Hospice Bookshop on Morningside Road and 15 years later I am still volunteering. I had just moved up from Cheshire to Edinburgh and volunteering was a great way to meet people and make friends.
The Bookshop is now in Canonmills and I help out on an ad hoc basis, filling in for volunteers who are on holiday... It's great fun and the customers certainly keep us on our toes with questions such as:
“Its about a girl called Mary who lives on Dartmoor and it has an Orange cover...” (see photo!)
Amazingly sometimes our other customers provide the answer!
I also help in the Volunteer Services Office every week. There is always lots to do with over 600 volunteers to look after. Its certainly helped me improve my computer skills. Over the years I have worked with lots of lovely staff and volunteers and am looking forward to my next 15 years volunteering for St Columbas Hospice.
In 2018 the Volunteer office team were recognised in the Inspiring Volunteer Award and 2 of our team attended a ceremony during Volunteer Week where they received the award from the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Very Exciting!
Anne - our team inspires
I’m Evelyn and I have volunteered in the Iona cafe at St Columba’s for years. The cafe is a little haven of cosy cheerfulness, smelling of warm scones and looking out to the little garden area, complete with wooden benches and water bowl for doggy companions.
My fortnightly afternoon shift is not too hectic so there is time to chat to customers – patients, staff and visitors who might be members of families or from the local neighbourhood. I remember being on duty one Friday evening. A youngish woman came in about 7pm pushing her brother, the patient, in a wheelchair. They were joined by 8 lads, all with laptops ready to play virtual sports. They stayed about an hour, enjoying coffees, cans of Coke and Irn-Bru, sandwiches, crisps and Mars bars. There was a buzz of laughter and chat and a really jolly atmosphere.
I found it very uplifting that, because their friend was not able to go out on the town with them, they had brought Friday night to him. I was enormously glad to have been there keeping the cafe open that evening.
The chat in the cafe is often quite an important part of what is on offer. The sandwiches, salads and cakes are great but often someone will come in, just for a little oasis of “normal life” when they can switch off from what else they have going on that is perhaps a bit stressful.
Evelyn - haven of cosy cheerfulness
I originally came to the Hospice for a month, during a sabbatical in 2015, as a ‘test’ for my retirement. I offered a whole month, and after my recruitment checks, I volunteered in a number of areas – in the garden, the Iona Café, on the Wards and as a driver. I was happy to commit further, and once the month was over, I joined the regular Iona Café team on an evening shift, and I joined the volunteer driver team.
I approached St Columba’s Hospice Care because a friend was supported by the Hospice about 10 years earlier. I kept this connection in my head, and I believe this personal connection has helped me in my volunteering.
I’ve missed the Hospice during COVID, but I’m helping a local food charity by delivering hot meals to people who need them. I’m looking forward to getting back to the Hospice as soon as I can.
I have time to offer, and I’d like to help. I want to contribute to something by helping people, and giving something back to my local community. My volunteering gives me a sense of satisfaction, so makes me feel good too. I love the interaction with staff, volunteers, patients and the public.
Frank - sense of satisfaction
I started volunteering in the Iona Café in 2016. I love it and find it much more fulfilling than my previous full-time job!
In 2005 my Mum was looked after in St Columba’s before she died. The peaceful environment and overwhelming kindness of all the staff and volunteers really helped me and my Dad through the following weeks. There was always a friendly face in the Iona Café when we needed some sustenance or a break. I knew then that I’d like to volunteer there myself one day.
I’m in a team of two for the busy lunchtime shift, and it’s been great to meet such a diverse group of people. At other times, I’m on my own and have more opportunity to get to know the staff, patients, visitors and ‘regulars’. I remember what it meant to me to see a friendly volunteer who would have a chat - or give you space - when you wanted, and that’s what I try to do now.
I love volunteering at St Columba’s - everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I wish I’d had time to do it earlier and would recommend it to anyone.
Lesley - when the time is right
St Columba’s has active social media and it’s easy to find out about all its events and activities. You can volunteer for all sorts of things in the community too. Lesley was lucky enough to help with a bucket collection at a Stephen K Amos gig at the Festival in 2019 - see photo. Stephen arranges a collection at a local hospice for all his gigs since the death of his twin sister. A very funny and very kind man.
You can follow our Hospice activities via Facebook - we have a community choir, live music events and lots more.Hospice Facebook page
Find out more
Many volunteers may be put off by common assumptions about what a Hospice is like. Everyone who comes to the Hospice says it is bright and airy, welcoming, friendly … and nothing like they expected. Whether in our Hospice, our shops or out in the community, we want everyone to feel welcomed, heard and respected, and we’re looking for volunteers keen to be part of that.Volunteer with us