PORT MCNEILL, B.C. – The North Island Hospice Society is offering hospice courses, but they need volunteers to take them.

The Society is offering hospice courses for new volunteers, and an advanced grief and bereavement course for volunteers who already have the basic training. A trainer from Vancouver is coming to the Mt. Waddington Health Network to teach volunteers for a weekend in January and another weekend in February.

Helen Gurney, a representative for the Port McNeill Hospital Auxiliary, said hospice volunteers don’t just get called in for hospice care.

“We find we’re being called out more for counselling than we are (being called out for) hospice work,” said Gurney. She added this makes volunteers feel a bit out of their depth, which is why they are offering advanced training.

Gurney said they don’t have enough volunteers to begin with, which makes attending to people who need them difficult.

“Our district is so widespread. I’ve done hospice work down in Voss, which is a 45-minute drive from me each way. We’ve done work in Sointula, which is a ferry ride away, and then Alert Bay, that’s a ferry ride. And then Port Alice, that’s 45 minutes from Port McNeill. We’re not close, we’re really spread out.”

Gurney said it would be nice if they had enough volunteers to have at least one person for each little town, but they do what they can with what they have.

For more information on volunteering with the North Island Hospice Society, training schedules and locations, visit the Mt. Waddington Health Network website.