A VITAL service which helps patients and carers cope with serious illness is expanding – and needs more people to join its dedicated band of volunteers.

Havens Hospices offers free reflexology, aromatherapy and massage as part of its care for patients.

The charity is looking for volunteers to join its complementary therapy team. Complementary therapies are used alongside medical treatment and medicine to help ease the side effects such as nausea, constipation and fatigue, to ease headaches.

Lucie Cole, complementary therapy and wellbeing co-ordinator at Havens Hospices, said: “Complementary therapy gives patients a feeling of wellbeing. We identify the individual’s needs and we then provide support alongside their medical treatment and medication.”

Complementary therapies are offered to patients in the Westcliffbased Fair Havens hospice and also to younger people at Little Havens Children’s Hospice, in Thundersley, their families and carers.

Ms Cole added: “I split my time between Fair Havens and Little Havens. I hold coffee mornings and complementary therapy evenings over at Little Havens, as well as evenings at Fair Havens. It’s nice for the children, as well as their parents, carers and siblings to get special treatment.”

Stephen Hughes, 61, from Southend, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011,.

He’d had asthma for years and as his condition worsened it progressed into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cancer has also spread to his liver and he has recently started another round of chemotherapy.

He said: “There are a lot of activities I can’t do any more, because of my breathing, but I still work at the hospital, which givesme a bit of normality.

“I’ve had a bad back before and used to have massages at the hospital, but when I was diagnosed with cancer, they weren’t sure whether they could carry on.

“I go to day care at Fair Havens and one of the nurses mentioned I could have a massage, and so could my wife, Irene. I absolutely love it for relaxation and I feel better for a few days afterwards.”

Volunteers need to be qualified in either beauty therapy or individual treatments, such as reflexology, massage or aromatherapy, and be friendly and flexible.

For details, contact the Havens’ volunteer services office, on 01702 426237, or visit havenshospices .org.uk/volunteering