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Volunteer with us

St Helena is fortunate to have over 900 dedicated volunteers who contribute a great deal of time to our charity, bringing skills, interests and individual experiences to support patients and families.

How much of your time would you give to change a life? In fact, what if you could not only change one life by giving up some free time each week, but you could change a number of lives, including your own?

That has been the experience of hundreds of volunteers at St Helena since the hospice first opened its doors back in 1985. Helping people across north east Essex face incurable illness and bereavement, St Helena staff and volunteers support patients, their families, friends and carers in the darkest of times.

St Helena staff could not do what they do, without the incredible passion, dedication and individual experiences of volunteers we have from all backgrounds and all walks of life. No matter their role, our volunteers all contribute towards making a huge difference to the lives of patients, their families and the general running of our organisation.

Commitment, reliability, common sense and flexibility are just some of the qualities which are needed to make a worthwhile and positive contribution. With a variety of roles across all different teams, we have something to suit everyone.

View our volunteer vacancies
background-image Malcolm Kimmance, maintenance volunteer

"Volunteering makes me proud of the fact that I can do something and help make a difference to somebody's life, particularly towards the end of their life, and to the families and friends of that person. That's a good feeling!"

- Malcolm Kimmance, maintenance volunteer


We are extremely fortunate at St Helena to have around 900 dedicated volunteers who contribute a range of skills, interests and individual experiences to support patients and their families.  Over 650 of our volunteers assist in the running of the hospice’s shops and donation centre, with retail outlets located across the Colchester and Tendring, including Brightlingsea, Halstead, Tiptree, Clacton and Frinton, with themed shops that specialise in furniture, music, children’s items and books.  

Some, but not all roles which volunteers carry out, will bring them into direct contact with patients or their families.  Satisfaction in volunteering is all about matching skills, interest, passions and personality with available opportunities, so please have a look at our current vacancies at the bottom of the page.

If you have a specific skill or experience that you would like to offer to one of the teams but not included in the current vacancies, please do get in touch as there may be a project that requires specialist skills and knowledge you can help with.

Work experience and placement opportunities at St Helena

St Helena offers an array of work experience opportunities, working in partnership with your school, college or organisation to offer you placements in different environments enabling you to learn about the workplace, gain new experiences and discover your strengths, values and interests.  Work experience will be beneficial in enhancing your CV and will help you to develop key skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork.

Work experience is a short term volunteer opportunity to help give you insight into the work you may be looking to pursue in your chosen career path. 

Retail outlets:

  • Applicants accepted from age 14 years
  • Locations across Colchester, Tendring, Halstead, Tiptree, Coggeshall
  • Gain knowledge in customer service and an understanding of how vital income generation is to the work of the hospice

At the Hospice:

  • Applicants from age of 16 years in limited areas (not patient facing roles)
  • Based at Myland Hall in Highwoods, Colchester
  • Gain knowledge in different areas of the organisation such as maintenance, gardening and catering 

Patient facing roles or applying for medical school:

  • Applicants can be accepted from age 16 years
  • Must be studying in 6th form education or above
  • Shadowing our medical team in the hospice – suitable for those looking for a career in the healthcare sector
  • Gain knowledge around palliative care to support your application to medical school

If you are interested in completing work experience placements at St Helena, please email an expression of interest to and include:

  • Area you are interested in completing your work experience and why
  • Your date of birth
  • A selection of dates you would like to undertake your placement. (we will try to accommodate your chosen dates as much as possible)
  • You will need the agreement of your parents and your school/college/organisation to fulfil your request

Volunteer FAQs

Why do people volunteer? 

There are many reasons why people choose to get involved. These are just a few: 

  • To support the work of the hospice 
  • To give something back to their local community 
  • To do something unusual and inspiring 
  • To meet people and make new friends 
  • To learn new skills and improve their CV 
  • Because its good for your mental and physical health – it feels good to do good! 

The response given by most of our volunteers about why they do it is quite simply because they find it enjoyable and rewarding, knowing they are making a difference.  

What skills and experience do I need?
For many of our volunteer roles you don’t need any specific skills or experience, just enthusiasm and a willingness to be involved. For some patient facing roles, for example complementary therapist, chaplaincy or bereavement roles you may be required to have experience or qualifications which will need to be evidenced on your application. Full details will be provided on the role descriptions and we give you training in your specific volunteer role. No matter what role you do, your support will complement the care we can offer to our patients and their families.
Can I volunteer in more than one role?
Yes of course! You can volunteer in as many roles as you wish to. Several of our volunteers help in different teams. You just need to let us know either when you apply or once you are settled in one role, you may wish to support another team; either is fine.
I’ve been thinking about volunteering, but don’t know which role would suit me best.
We have several roles at St Helena and we aim to match the volunteer with the right roles for their personality, skills and experience. Some volunteers prefer to do something new and completely different to their usual area of expertise, while some like to use their regular profession to support St Helena. If you’re not sure, just call the volunteer services team for a chat and we can look at all available options with you before making a decision. 
How much time do I have to give?
Volunteer roles at St Helena can be flexible depending on the role you choose and your availability. Some patient facing or retail roles can require morning, afternoon, evening or weekend commitments while others can be flexible. Whatever you can offer, whether its one hour or ten hours a month, we are sure to find something for you.
Is there an age restriction on volunteering?

For roles in our retail or fundraising teams, we accept volunteer applications from anyone aged 16+. 

For patient facing roles, we can only accept volunteer applications from anyone aged 18+ 

There is no upper age limit for joining our volunteer team.

What checks do I have to go through?
As a care provider, we need to carry out pre-recruitment checks. This will vary depending on the role you have applied for but will include references. For any patient facing roles a Disclosure and Barring Check will be carried out. 
What training will I need to do?
You will be required to undertake annual mandatory training for health and safety. For most roles, this is completed online however if you volunteer in one of our shops or donation centre, you will receive a booklet to read and sign to confirm your training. All volunteers will receive training specific to their role
I have recently been bereaved, can I still volunteer?
We understand that those who have sadly suffered a recent bereavement may want to volunteer to give something back to the hospice as a thank you for the support they or a loved one has received. We also recognise that everyone deals with grief in a different way. We therefore, treat everyone’s situation individually and while there may be some patient facing roles that we cannot offer you if you have experienced a bereavement within the last 12 to 24 months, this does not exclude you from all roles so please contact the volunteer services team for an informal chat about your situation and roles that you are interested in.
Will volunteering affect benefits I receive?
Volunteering will not affect any state benefits you receive however you should inform your job centre or benefits office that you are starting a volunteer role. If you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance, you can volunteer for a maximum of 17.5 hours per week, as you must allocate time to continue to seek paid employment, and you should be willing and able to attend a potential employment interview at short notice. Don’t forget, volunteering looks great on your CV! 
My organisation would like to offer a day of volunteering, is this possible?
We have lots of great opportunities for corporate volunteering which can be done either individually or as a group.  Please contact us on 01206 931 466 to discuss your options.

Skills Pathway 

St Helena volunteers are eligible to enrol in our Skills Pathway, an evidence based learning program which demonstrates that a volunteer has attained certain skills, experience and knowledge within their volunteer role for which they receive a certificate at the end of 12 months. The Skills Pathway is not an accreditation or qualification, but has many benefits which can boost your CV. 

Some of the benefits of obtaining the Skills Pathway certificate are: 

  • Gain experience and learn new skills that will be beneficial in the workplace and evidenced with a certificate 
  • Build confidence and develop interpersonal skills 
  • Boost your CV and stand out to potential employers 
  • Demonstrate a willingness to learn and progress your career 
  • Take pride in knowing that you've used your time to help other people 

If you would like more information or are an existing volunteer looking to sign up please contact volunteer services team on 01206 931 466 or 

View our volunteer privacy notice
A female volunteer pricing a shoe display in our Boutique store
A female volunteer scanning an item through the till
Two male maintenance volunteers smiling outside a maintenance shed
A female volunteer tidying a clothes rack
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