Family Support Volunteers making a difference

All our volunteers are integral to the way we operate. Whether it’s a day a week or a few hours a month, the time given by our amazing volunteers, really does make a huge difference. We couldn’t do it without their support, dedication and hard work. Fiona, our Family Support Manager from our Durham care team, shares how she utilises volunteers to reach more families with a seriously ill child and the invaluable support they provide her team and to the families in the area.

Volunteers have proven to be a vital asset to the Durham team. We currently have four active volunteers working alongside our Family Support Workers, providing an extra pair of hands and allowing us to dedicate more time and support even more families than we would otherwise be able to. Each volunteer has a mentor for supervision and support, which works extremely well for us.

Our Family Support Volunteers can help with a variety of roles. From support with creative art and craft activities, to visiting hospital wards to enable parents to have a few hours to themselves. Many of the parents we currently help are at the hospital 24 hours a day which can be exhausting and very stressful, so it’s great to be able to give them some respite. Volunteer support also releases Family Support Worker’s to undertake other tasks whilst drop in groups are running and the families are able to benefit from receiving two people on hand.

The skills that volunteers have to offer are so varied and valuable. One of our volunteers, Fiona, is a retired art teacher and uses her previous experience to prepare suitable activities for the children at our “drop in” group at Great North Children Hospital. This is held every Friday for over an hour. Providing a welcome distraction for the children whilst waiting in the oncology clinic.

We also have a student, currently studying Art at a local university who will be joining us shortly, to support Family Support Worker’s with creative activities for a newly created sibling group. This new group will entertain siblings while they wait and allow parents to give doctors their full attention whilst receiving training with their neonate.

Martin, a Family Support Volunteer, recently ran a paper airplane session with a competition as to who could fly theirs the furthest – this proved to be a great hit!

All the support given by our Family Support Volunteers has a huge impact on the families that attend the drop in group and often allows the families to receive an extra session per week. Without them, we couldn’t reach as many families as we do.

Whilst recently visiting a family to complete an initial assessment, the father commented on the work of the volunteers at the drop in group, stating that they were a true asset to Rainbow Trust. We couldn’t agree more, and are extremely grateful to have such dedicated people to work alongside us. Thank you to all the volunteers that give up their time for Rainbow Trust and help us to give support to all the families in the UK with a seriously ill child that need us.