“The time that people give, for nothing, is just amazing”

Photo of Barbara Cronin

Volunteers are vital all year round, but from June 1-7 National Volunteers’ Week aims to shine a spotlight on their kindness. To celebrate, we asked our volunteer and HR coordinator, Barbara Cronin, to tell us more about herself, her role, and why those who give their time to Barnsley Hospice are so important.

“I’ve been working at the hospice for 15 years now, and the best part of my job is definitely getting to meet so many people. I’d moved back to Doncaster after living in London for 22 years and had never been to Barnsley, or to a hospice before, so it was brilliant to get to know everyone associated with the charity. I fell in love with it in week one, and I’m still here today!

We’ve got about 270 volunteers on the books at the moment and the time they give, for nothing, is just amazing.  The hospice couldn’t run without them.

I’ve always said volunteering has to be a two-way thing; the volunteer has to get what they want out of it too, and it’s rewarding to see people having fun and becoming part of the team.

People choose to volunteer for different reasons. Many have a personal connection to the hospice, and there are also those who have retired and now have that time to give something back to the community. We have a few volunteers who have just moved back into the area after being away for a long time, so it’s a way for them to meet people, and others who use it as a way of easing themselves back into work after time away from employment. We are happy to provide references for people who have volunteered with us for six months or more.

We have volunteers from the ages of 14 upwards, with some in their mid-80s, and the shops provide a great opportunity for young people working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

I am the main point of contact for volunteers. People can email me, ring me, write me a letter, or go into any shop to pick up an application form.

After filling in an application form, the next stage is an informal chat over a cup of tea. If you’re wanting to volunteer in a shop it’s normally the shop manager who will meet you, but for any other role, it will be me.  We’re very flexible in terms of the commitment that we ask for and can fit around people’s time and needs.

Joining the events team is a great way for people to get involved with volunteering who can’t donate time regularly. It’s a less formal process, and it means you will be on a list of people we can contact if we need help on an ad hoc basis – for fundraising initiatives, bag-packs, special events and so on. It’s ideal for people who work full time.

At the moment, we are also particularly on the lookout for people who can volunteer as gardeners (no formal experience is needed!) and during mealtimes on our In-Patient Unit. We also need more help at our donation centre in Dodworth.

I really enjoy my role as volunteer and HR coordinator. I started my career in retail at a department store, and spent time working for a French record label. I was also a Scout leader for many years, so combined with the retail experience, the position at Barnsley Hospice suited me perfectly.

I still live in Doncaster, and I have a grown-up son and daughter and two grandchildren aged 16 and eight. We’re all looking forward to a holiday in Tenerife together in August. Outside of work I also enjoy sewing, dress-making and the cinema, where I go with friends three times a week.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is interested in finding out more about volunteering here at Barnsley Hospice. It’s such a rewarding experience and I can guarantee that you will be making a huge difference.”

Barbara can be contacted on 01226 323616 or at barbara.cronin@barnsley-hospice.org.

To find out what volunteering opportunities are available, visit our vacancies page.

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