Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers reflect on 2020

To welcome 2021 - after a year like never before - we thought it would be great to hear reflections from our Family Support Workers in each of our six care teams. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to significantly adapt our support (almost overnight) for families caring for a seriously ill child.

Southampton Care Team

Family Support Worker, Liz, said: "2020 has been very uncertain for all of us, with restrictions changing throughout the year and our family support ever changing to reflect this.

"It has also shown us that the families we support already have this uncertainty on a daily basis and this is just another layer for them not knowing where they may be or what the next day looks like on an even deeper emotional level with many decisions being made by professionals.

"I have also noticed recently many parents and children who are going through crisis in their lives often thinking and speaking of how they would like to help others which is so truly amazing and selfless.

"My highlight has been how we have continued supporting families, adapting our support every step of the way when other support networks around them have had to stop."

South West Care Team

Family Support Worker, Charlotte said: "This year has been a year like no other that's for sure. It's one where we have all had to make changes and adapt. If anyone had asked me a year ago if video call support for a family would work I would have said no, however I would have been very wrong!

"My highlight of this year has definitely been being able to adapt our support over night by switching to support families via video calls instead of face to face. The video calls have been really successful, full of fun, laughter and still able to offer that very much needed respite to families.

"Whilst on video calls I have hosted a Gruffalo's birthday party, I've been on pony treks, hot air balloon rides and many, many more adventures. This has all happened through the power of a video call, and a child's imagination.

"I've also been able to support emotionally, and still be that person who is there to offer a listening ear for children and parents. It's amazed me how well video calls have worked, and I am just so pleased they have so my support to families could continue.

"I have also really enjoyed getting back out to see families face to face, and go on some real life adventures such as to The Wild Place in the South West, lots of different parks and woods. I know that's technically two highlights, but surely after this year we should be celebrating as many success as we can!"

North West Care Team

This reflection was written by the whole team. We started the New Year with rumblings of COVID-19 in our ears, never thinking it would take hold of our lives as it did and what an impact it would make.

Our lives changes dramatically, no more home visits, no trips to the park, or hospital support. Families went into isolation to protect themselves and Zoom was born, enabling us to keep in touch and do weekly activities for them.

We kept our spirits up with virtual daily quizzes and chats among the team. Team meetings became virtual, during these we had the appearance of 3 babies, cats, dogs and husbands on the screen.

We had to get rapidly creative supporting families via zoom, some of the hardest but best support was done during this time.

The North team emerged when North West joined North East with a new WhatsApp group which brought the team and siblings and parents from across the north together.

We’ve done assessments over the phone, and met new families by socially-distancing outside!

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried and vented anger, we’ve gone through every emotion possible but we are here we’ve made it through what has been one tough year.

We are entering the festive period a changed North West team. Everyone has been touched by Coronavirus in many different ways but we have got through this together. We have smashed it!

North East Care Team

The North East care team chose one very special moment from the year as their highlight. Family Support Worker, Jaimie, enjoyed a very special trip to the beach with Erin in July, as this was the first time Erin had been past her garden since the pandemic started four months previous.

They walked along the shore chasing waves, enjoyed a picnic and even produced some lovely sand art using shells and stones that they collected along the shoreline.

Erin’s brother has an undiagnosed condition. He is connected to oxygen 24 hours a day and has very complex needs and family life was already restricted before the coronavirus pandemic.

Essex Care Team

Family Support Worker, Carly, said: "What a year it has been, I will look back on this time and feel so lucky to still be doing the job I love. It hasn't all been easy, but we have taken each day in our stride and worked so well as a team. I feel so proud in all we have been able to achieve during this difficult time at Rainbow Trust and I hope we have many more years ahead of us.

"A highlight for me would be the day I finished the 2.6 challenge with my family, during the first lockdown and raising over £600 for Rainbow Trust."

Family Support Worker, Hannah, said: "2020 has had many highs and lows, well most would say only lows. But in my opinion, from just experiencing how resilient and supportive our team has been throughout this testing time has definitely been a high for me and has made more even more proud to be a part of the Essex Team."

London and South East Care Team

Family Support Worker, Nicki, said: "During this most strange of years we had adapt much of our support to online. One of the highlights for me especially during the first lockdown was an art challenge I put out to some families. It cheered me up."

If you would like to sponsor a Family Support Worker and help us to continue to provide vital support for families with a seriously ill child, please click here.