“I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t foster due to a lack of a spare room. Safe Families for Children seemed to be the perfect solution, as I think it is for a lot of people who would like to do something but can’t commit to fostering or adoption.
“There is a mother of four who’s having chemotherapy and wanted somebody to look after her daughters. It was quite short notice, but my daughter who is also a Safe Families volunteer asked if I’d seen the request for support and we decided to volunteer together. The request was to take them out for two days. So we took them to a National Trust property that had some Easter activities, and had a picnic while mum was having chemo. Day two we took them to the theatre and another place like messy church while mum had a rest and recovered.
“We got free theatre tickets for the girls because I rang the theatre. They have a ‘plus one’ thing where you can get free tickets. I was already going with a friend, another Safe Families volunteer, to a circus version of The Little Mermaid, so I rang her and said, ‘I’m bringing four little girls along’ and we got free tickets for all four girls.
“I don’t think volunteering does disrupt life. I do a lot of volunteering. I’m a street pastor and help at the night shelter. I’ve worked with other charities. I think Safe Families is very easy as you’ll get an email saying this person or family needs support and if it’s something you’re interested in you respond, otherwise you ignore it. Read an email, say, ‘yes/no’ and carry on. I don’t find it difficult at all.
That’s the great thing about Safe Families. It’s not difficult. It’s just a couple of days.
“I’m supporting another family as well. A single mum who’s got two boys. One has significant special needs. The older brother is left out due to the needs of his younger brother. I’m thinking of people in my church who can help the older brother. I’ve got a couple men on my team who know him through kid zone and by becoming Safe Families volunteers they can take him to the cinema which he’s never been able to do because his brother can’t go and his mum can’t leave his brother.
‘I want him to be a normal little boy, to climb trees and kiss girls’. Mum
“The older boy wants to go to the cinema and Nando’s with his mum on his own but last year his brother unintentionally spoiled his birthday. How can I make his birthday wish happen? I’m already thinking of a way to make that happen. People don’t feel confident with the younger son’s condition. I think someone’s trying to organise a link there to get her some respite. So I’m thinking how can we look after the littlest at church while they do that? Failing that I’ll ask one of the guys, “Can you take him to cinema?”. The older boy doesn’t know all this, so if it happens it’ll be great; if it doesn’t, he won’t know.
“Mum’s a Christian and came to my church already. I’ve been saying hello and playing with the little boy for a long time. She’s very much on the fringe of the church scene, but I can change that. If you know there’s a need there you can do something about that. But if you just say hello and don’t know the back story you don’t know what you can do.
“Since the family has so many needs they’ve been referred to Safe Families. I was approached to see if I could help her. The church will be aware of her situation to some extent but weren’t aware of a lot of the details, which is where Safe Families is brilliant. It gives you permission to be proactive and to approach someone and say,’What can I do to help and what are your needs?’. It’s not always easy in church to do that. Safe Families opens a door really.
“Safe Families acts within the church family, doing things that should be happening naturally but aren’t because it’s a big church or for whatever reason, so needs a bit of help…and Safe Families is doing that! It’s not just me as a volunteer doing this. I want to say to people, ‘This is easy, not a huge commitment, do as little or much as you like!’. I want to try to grow Safe Families within the church.”