A NORTH-EAST hospice is taking steps to ensure that its volunteers are not forgotten during lockdown.

Peter Bryant, a volunteer counsellor for Butterwick Hospice Care, in Stockton, has been tasked with contacting each of the hundreds of volunteers on the charity’s books and making sure they are alright.

He said: “Without our volunteers, Butterwick wouldn’t be the amazing hospice that it is. The charity wouldn’t exist without them giving their time.

“Like so many others around the country, I was stuck at home at the start of lockdown, so when I was asked to do something to help the hospice, I jumped at the chance.

“The best part has been hearing that so many people are still doing everything they can to support the hospice. Even in times like this people are doing their best to raise funds, and so many of them just want to be able to come back and help out again.”

Peter, who began volunteering for Butterwick Hospice Care in May 2017, is part of the charity’s Family Support Team.

With the hospice’s charity shops closed and fundraising events cancelled until Covid-19 is under control, volunteers have been grateful for any news they hear about the hospice.

“People are concerned about what this all means for the hospice,” Peter said. “So many of them are just grateful to know that we’re still here, that we’re doing our best to look after our them.

“As a counsellor, I find people will open up to me when they can’t speak to anyone else because they feel they have to be strong for their loved ones. Doing this has been similar. Some people I call are absolutely fine, while others are overjoyed just to hear another person’s voice.

“Some of our volunteers don’t have many family or friends, but they come to the hospice and they meet people, and they’re making a connection with someone else.

“What I expect to be a three-minute conversation can turn into 30 minutes or more – it’s lovely. It’s just nice to show people that while they’re at home worrying about us, we’re worrying about them too.”

Karen Robinson, Peter's supervisor added “Peter is an invaluable member of the Family Support team. He can be relied upon to use his initiative and step up whenever the need arises.

"His bubbly friendly personality complimented by his professional skills meant he was an obvious choice to reach out to our volunteers. We are so grateful for everything Peter and all our volunteers do to help Butterwick ."