*photo is for illustrative purposes only
What were your reasons for becoming a volunteer?
I was approached about becoming a volunteer and once I looked into what Safe Families for Children was all about, I realised it was a chance to make a real difference to family lives without actually having to sacrifice too much time or energy! I must admit, initially I was rather nervous at committing to the unknown and apprehensive with what I may have to take on board.
How have you found volunteering for Safe Families?
It’s been pretty straightforward, interesting and rewarding.
I went through the training course, was vetted for child protection reasons and had to obtain three references before I was accepted. Once the necessary compliance and training was out of the way, I was asked if I’d be interested in helping a family. This I committed to (but if it hadn’t fitted in with my life or I didn’t feel comfortable doing it, I didn’t have to) and I agreed with the family I’d do about four hours a week. I split this between two visits and doing background work such as finding things out for them, organising clothing for the children etc. It hasn’t impacted very much on my time but I must admit, I do think about them a lot! They are a lovely family and if all goes to plan, just with a little support and guidance, our help could prevent one or more of their children from going into care.
In what ways has this been a rewarding and enjoyable experience?
I have only met the children of this family once so far when they were on their summer holidays as my main role is to support and guide the mother. When I met the children, it was one of the times I’d brought along new clothing. To them it was like Christmas and the joy I witnessed was very humbling and rewarding. I can also see a great improvement with the mum. She seems to have more energy and able to get things done. I don’t know if this would have happened anyway in that time, but I’m convinced we’ve played a part in and possibly speeded up her recovery.
What difference do you think you have made with the family you have been supporting?
It’s early days yet but I do feel as though we are getting somewhere. Both parents said just talking about issues has helped. I feel I’ve been able to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction to get things done. Things such as housing issues, hospital visits to see their poorly baby, clearing out old clothing etc., to make room for new, helping find furniture for the home, the mum getting medical help for a condition she has, have all contributed to a more positive and homely atmosphere. I won’t be by their side forever but feel I’m helping to lay the foundations for a more secure and happy home life.