A hospice is desperately appealing for help after suffering huge losses during the pandemic.

Nearly 350 volunteers who used to man the shops that help fund Bury Hospice have not returned to their roles since the pandemic began.

The shops provide a third of the cash needed to look after people with terminal conditions and support their families.

But as more units are reopened, hospice bosses are finding they don't have enough volunteers.

Sam Duncan, head of retail and trading, has appealed for help.

Patsy Gibson

"The hospice couldn’t function without the support and dedication of our volunteers, but we need more," she said.

"Before COVID hit we had 423 volunteers and only 74 have come back to the hospice so far.

"A third of the income needed to run the hospice comes from our charity shops so without the workforce in place to help run them, the situation is critical. We are so grateful for the help we have experienced over the years – and we now need to urgently recruit a new volunteer workforce.

"We are particularly looking for people to volunteer in our shops. For those who volunteer for us, it is impossible to put a value on what they do – and what they get back from it.

"Anyone who has had a loved one cared for at the hospice knows what a difference it makes."

The hospice has several shops throughout the borough, including in Bury town centre, Radcliffe, Ramsbottom and Prestwich, which all need support.

Patsy Gibson, who started volunteering for the hospice after she retired from nursing at the hospice in 2018, said: "I have also observed the great care and support that had been given to close friends of mine who were patients or attended the Day Hospice, which prompted my decision to get involved on retiring.

"I volunteer as a shop assistant at the hospice Bridal shop and Millgate Boutique. I love it and have learnt new skills.

"Personally the impact of supporting the hospice has given me a reason to get up every morning and feel that I am continuing to provide a worthwhile and satisfying role. I have found a new purpose, and have made many lovely friends."

Anyone who can offer help to the hospice or volunteers should contact Josie Bades via email [email protected] or telephone on 0161 725 9800.