This Valentine’s Day marks five years since Safe Families for Children recruited and approved their first volunteers in Redcar.
Doris and David were the first of the now 3500 volunteers nationwide to step forward to support vulnerable families in the charity’s mission to improve the outcomes for children and families going through a crisis.
Redcar residents, Doris and David were approved as Family Friend volunteers on Valentine’s Day 2013 and have since supported thirteen families in the North East.
Their motivation in volunteering to support struggling families goes back to their own past.
“When I was a little girl I had two brothers,” says Doris. “At one stage my father was seriously ill in hospital and then my mother had to go into hospital. We didn’t have any family at all and we were all separated and sent to different places for several months. It adversely affected all of us. If there had been such an organisation like Safe Families that wouldn’t have had to happen.”
Five years in, Doris and her husband are still friends with the first family they supported, Nikki and her husband Steve.
A tragic accident left Steve with permanent brain damage and the family struggling to cope with four children and nobody to leave them with while Nikki accompanied her husband to hospital for months of treatment.
When the family didn’t know where else to turn they were told about Safe Families.
“It was very hard for the children and the social worker referred us to Safe Families,” says Nikki. “We have volunteers that come and help us, David and Doris. They’re just at the end of the phone if we need them. They come and visit. They take the children, they visit them at Christmas and on birthdays and make them feel part of their family. We wouldn’t be where we are now without Safe Families. Our family was falling apart and they helped put us back together again.”
“The children regard us as grandparents really,” says Doris. “It wasn’t just an assignment, it was the beginning of friendship which I think will go on into the future for a long time.”
If you would like to find out more about becoming a Safe Families volunteer please fill in the contact form below.