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Farleigh Hospice’s Volunteer Army

Each Christmas Tree Collection Campaign we complete, we are always amazed at the huge number of volunteers Farleigh Hospice in mid-Essex continue to secure. To find out just how they do it, we spoke to Debbie de Boltz, the Fundraising Manager at Farleigh Hospice to discover their secret.              

Farleigh Hospice provide hospice care to people affected by life-limiting illnesses and bereavement across mid-Essex. They provide care for any illness that is considered life-limiting (including cancer, neurological diseases, and chronic heart, lung, and renal diseases), both in their Inpatient Unit and in patient’s home environments.

Like many hospices, Farleigh Hospice is a registered charity. Approximately 38% of their yearly running costs are funded by the local NHS, they rely on the support and goodwill of the local mid Essex community to contribute to the over £16,500 it costs to provide their services each day.

It was with this cost in mind that the Farleigh Hospice Fundraising Team contacted Just Helping five years ago to help them organise their Christmas Tree Collection campaign. We manage the portal for online donations, use our logistics software to plan all the routes according to postcodes and create routes for the volunteer drivers, and we promote the scheme nationally.

The Hospice promotes the scheme to households in mid-Essex and recruits the army of volunteers needed to complete the collection. And each year, it keeps going from strength to strength, as Fundraising Manager Debbie de Boltz explains: “Registration is open until 8th January so there is still plenty of time for people to ask to have their trees collected.  Last year we collected in over 2000 trees, raising a fabulous £28,000 and hope this year’s campaign will be even more successful.

“To help us cope with the increase in registrations year on year, we need even bigger teams of volunteers. At the hospice we are blessed with the number of volunteers who help us throughout the year but with the Christmas Tree Collection Campaign we go out of our way to make sure their experience of volunteering is fun! We look after our volunteers really well with bacon butties on arrival, sweetie bags for the collection and hot food and drinks when they drop the trees off.

“We are always looking for new ways to promote the event through different media including posters, banners, social media posts, radio and this year bus stop promotions. We have also managed to get the adverts on specifically placed digital screens in local town centres. We work alongside local councils, schools and community groups to share our promotional material with strong messaging about recycling and the environmental aspect of the campaign.

“This year, we have a mixture of corporate and individual volunteers. Many of the individual volunteers have family members who have previously used our hospice services and are looking to give back. Our regular corporate volunteers include: Bakers of Danbury, Essex Highways, Chandlers Material Supplies, Chelmsford Lions, Mr O’s Removals, Burnham Rugby Club, Heybridge, Swifts FC, and Secret Hamper. We have The Duck Truck providing our hot food all weekend for free! We are also very lucky to have the support of a local farmer who allows us to use his farm and barn as a base to operate from over the weekend.

“Last year we had a total of 104 volunteers with 42 vehicles. This year we already have 42 vehicles confirmed and are hoping to increase the number of volunteers who join us on the day.

“Thanks to this army of volunteers, every penny we raise will go a long way in helping us to reach even more people in the local mid-Essex community who desperately need the care and bereavement support we provide.”

Congratulations to Debbie and the Farleigh Hospice Fundraising Team, their incredible effort and dedication to the Christmas Tree Collection Campaign is reaping the rewards for the patients they care for and their families. If you are a hospice and you would like to get involved in our 2020 campaign, please get in touch, we’d love to help you.