Heritage of Care exhibition
Posted on 22 Feb 2014
The Heritage of Care project seeks to explore and portray the legacy of the early/longstanding volunteers in palliative care, in an effort to highlight the contribution that volunteering makes to hospice care. The exhibition, which features archival material, oral histories and photographs from twelve hospices around the UK, will take place from 26 February to 2 March 2014 at Oxo Gallery, London.
Bringing together photographs, oral histories and archival material, the project charts the trajectory of palliative care, from the rise of the Hospice Movement, pioneered by Dame Cicely Saunders in the late 1960s, to the ever increasing role that hospices play in the local communities nowadays.
Featuring the testimonies of both the early and todays carers and befrienders, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the everyday duties of volunteers, their relationships with patients and doctors, the support they offer to the bereaved, and the dramatic changes which took place in palliative care over the last five decades.
The Heritage of Care is devised and curated by Eyes Wide Open, a London-based partnership community programme, which facilitates exhibitions and workshops around social themes. The project represents the achievement of 37 volunteers who immersed themselves in the Cicely Saunders Archives as Kings College Hospital. As if in an effort to reproduce the same archival experience, visitors to the exhibition will be able to dig through archive boxes, look at old photographs and read documents and articles.
What is the Modern Hospice Movement?
The inspiration for the modern hospice came from Dame Cicely Saunders. She had started work as a volunteer nurse in 1948 and, over the next decade, trained as a doctor to understand the issues surrounding care of the dying. The work of Cicely Saunders paved the way for the opening of St Christopher’s Hospice in 1967, which she conceived of as a medical, teaching and research service dedicate to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying.
Since then, hospice care has developed into a worldwide movement, which led to a radical transformation to the way in which we approach death and dying. Hospices have evolved into organizations which provide specialist end-of-life treatments to relieve patients from pain and suffering, and a range of services to facilitate and enrich the lives of patients, carers and relatives.
How do volunteers make palliative care possible?
Hospices employ a range of specialist staff, but also rely heavily on the goodwill and hard work of volunteers. On average each hospice has three times the number of volunteers as employed personnel.
With over 3,200 hospice beds and 420 home care services, palliative care in the UK could not be delivered without the work of nearly 100,000 volunteers. Volunteering in hospice care has significantly evolved over the subsequent fifty years and both the roles of today’s volunteers and the volunteers themselves reflect tremendous diversity.
What will you get out of it?
Volunteering at a hospice is not just about giving. Besides making a tangible difference to the lives of patients and their families and building bonds with your fellow volunteers, working as a volunteer also represents an invaluable opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience for you CV. The training programme which is offered to any new volunteer will equip you will the set of skills which could then be further needed when working with vulnerable people.
What are the roles available to volunteers?
Involved in a whole variety of roles, spanning patient care, administration, hospitality, fundraising and more, volunteers play a key role in the delivery of hospice care. They may work in the hospice building, visit people at home or work in a variety of other settings where hospices have a role, even care homes and hospitals. Hospice volunteers have always been vital in raising funds for hospices – either through community fundraising or work in charity shops and most hospice boards are made up entirely of committed individuals offering their time and expertise to the leadership of these organisations. A study by Help the Hospices in 2006 estimated the economic value of volunteers to independent charitable hospices in the UK to be over £112 million. It is likely that there are already over 100,000 volunteers working in or on behalf of hospices. However hospices are always looking to recruit more, and many are actively looking to recruit younger people including students. Their energy, youth and connections are considered hugely valuable.
If you would like to know more about the opportunities for volunteering in your local area visit your local hospice. The opportunities are many and if you have a good idea about how you could help the hospice the team there will be keen to hear from you.
Below are the links to some hospices that we cooperated with while preparing the exhibition.