Volunteers are vital to the running of the Hospice

Volunteers are placed at the core of St Raphael’s and play a vital role in the running of the Hospice. As part of our Psychological Support Services team, our dynamic group of volunteer counsellors collectively contribute over 1,500 therapy hours to our patients and those closest to them each year. Our valued volunteer counsellor team is comprised of 4 qualified counsellors and 3 trainee counsellors currently on placement. Some have been volunteering with St Raphael’s since 2019 and each have their own areas of speciality, including chronic pain conditions, grief and anticipatory grief, existential distress and bereavement.

Volunteer counsellors commit to at least one year with our Hospice, with the majority continuing to work with us post qualification. They see 3 to 4 clients per week, often supporting loved ones through the grieving process as well as those who are anticipating loss. Their work is mandatorily supervised by the department Lead to ensure that all work is clinically appropriate, it is monitored and evaluated, and in turn, counsellors are positively supported and developed. 

Free psychological support for our patients and those close to them

Our Psychological Support Services team together with our volunteer counsellors support the people of Merton and Sutton through the challenges of life-limiting illness and loss, at any stage required. Services include Counselling (individual, couples, group and family therapy), Bereavement Support, Spiritual Care and Social Work. This is offered completely free of charge to our patients and those close to them.

The impact and heartfelt thanks

It is with immense thanks to our volunteer counsellors that St Raphael’s Hospice is able to provide an additional 1,500 counselling sessions every year. This means, on average, that an additional 130 clients in the community are seen and in a timely manner.

Other counselling services outside of our organisation can often have overwhelming waiting periods of 9 months plus. Our volunteer counsellors have enabled us to keep our waiting times down to approximately 2 weeks for the people of Merton and Sutton.

Steven Molyneux,
Clinical Lead and Head of Psychological Services

“Our volunteer counsellors add so much value to the work we do through their compassion and heartfelt commitment to their patient groups. Their training means that they are up to date with developments within the psychological fields and through their diverse backgrounds, bring a wealth of life experience. It is invaluable to have this dedicated, hardworking and truly empathic group of individuals as part of our team.”

Meet our valued team of volunteer counsellors

Alexander Filmer-Lorch, a final year Psychotherapy Trainee, has been on placement with the Hospice for 2 years. He has a strong interest in chronic pain conditions and the effects of psychology on the body. Alexander will be joining St Raphael’s Inpatient Unit (IPU) next year with the patient group on the ward.

Ali Lutz, a person-centred counsellor, recently completed her training while on placement at the Hospice. She plans to continue working at St Raphael’s as a qualified counsellor and is dedicated to the therapeutic relationship of patients and how healing and transformation can arise.

Barbara Bicknell is a qualified counsellor who has volunteered with us for 2 years. Her specialist areas includes grief and loss, complex relational issues and spirituality.

Ben Lee, a paramedic, has been on placement with St Raphael’s for 6 months as a trainee counsellor. His person-centred approach focuses on the unique experience of each individual and how the therapeutic relationship can allow for tangible transformation.

Emma Dugmore (not pictured) provides one-to-one and online counselling to loved ones who are grieving and experiencing loss. Emma is a qualified counsellor with a private practice of her own and offers her time and expertise as a volunteer counsellor at St Raphael’s.

Lucy Parker has been on placement with St Raphael’s for 6 months and is training to become a counsellor and coach. In addition to counselling, Lucy is also a qualified Yoga teacher. She has a specialist interest in breath work, total pain and distress and the alleviation of both, through the combination of psychology and body work.

Samantha Maxwell is a qualified counsellor who is skilled in face-to-face and online therapy sessions. She has been with us for 2 years and works predominantly with bereavement and loss, as well as anticipatory grief.

Team lunch in celebration of St Raphael’s volunteer counsellors

From Left to Right: Samantha Maxwell, Barbara Bicknell, Steven Molyneux, Alexander Filmer-Lorch, Lucy Parker, Ben Lee, Ali Lutz.

Emma Dugmore (not pictured)

Current Volunteering Opportunities