Together We Can

Together We Can Logo_FinalA new web-based resource kit Together We Can is now available to help children’s palliative care services develop innovative volunteer programmes to support families in their own homes. The guide provides services with a complete easy-to-use set of resources on how to establish and develop a local Family Support Volunteer service. You can download Together We Can from: www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/togetherwecan

The free resource kit draws on the first-hand experiences of families, volunteers and services from a pilot which explored how volunteers can have a positive impact on the daily lives of these families at home. There are 49,000 children and young people in the UK with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions, these families are under enormous strain, caring for their child 24/7. A little extra help from a volunteer at home can make a huge difference to families, helping them to cope better. 

Together We Can has been co-produced with learning from a two-year pilot initiated and co-funded by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, and the True Colours Trust. The project aimed to test different models of volunteering in a range of voluntary and statutory services and encourage people to re-think the role of the volunteer in the children’s palliative care sector. Early results from the pilot projects have shown the difference and value that a regular home volunteer can have on families’ lives. The vision is to pass on this valuable experience, share learning and help services set up their own Family Support Volunteering service locally with the help of an off the peg resource kit.

Barbara Gelb, CEO of Together for Short Lives, said: “On top of caring round the clock and juggling endless medical appointments, families who have a child with complex medical needs can struggle with everyday tasks, like housework, shopping or spending time with their other children. Together We Can has been produced to equip and inspire organisations working in children’s palliative care to use volunteers to provide practical support to families in their homes. By pooling the collective knowledge and expertise from services across the sector this guide will help to establish Family Support Volunteering across the country. We can’t achieve great things alone, but together we can.”

Volunteering counts – making an impact

Volunteers help families with their daily lives by helping with housework, ironing, playing with siblings and helping with homework, gardening, dog walking and collecting prescriptions. 

Over the last year:

  • 60 volunteers have been recruited to help families at home.
  • 62 families matched with volunteers, and 48 of these families have already started to receive regular volunteering.
  • 692 hours of volunteering has been delivered. That’s the equivalent of 28 full days.

“I have been lucky enough to be matched with a Noah’s Ark family as a Home Support Volunteer – helping a sibling with homework. I go for one hour every Saturday afternoon and listen to the sibling read, help with spelling, and we have fun doing all sorts of topic work the school has set – we particularly enjoyed counting all the different bugs in the garden – I'm pleased to be able to help the family in this very small way; I find it hugely rewarding and brilliant way to spend a Saturday afternoon!"

Family Support Volunteer

“It just means that one evening a fortnight I can do what I like – I even went and had a bath one time – something just for me! Also being able to go out with my husband when the volunteer babysat along with a nurse. Having someone who has this volunteer role takes the pressure off my brain... It has lessened my ‘mum guilt bag’.”

Parent supported by a volunteer

Beginning in 2014, Family Support Volunteering was a pilot project which aimed to test the feasibility of using volunteers to provide practical support to families accessing children’s palliative care services. The pilot involved nine UK organisations with expertise in children’s palliative care, volunteering or both: Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home, NHS South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, NHS Whittington Health Trust, Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, Together for Short Lives and, Volunteering Matters. 

Download Together We Can today: www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/togetherwecan 

Join the community of practice to get support and share learning: www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk/keepintouch

Find out about volunteer opportunities near you: volunteer@togetherforshortlives.org.uk

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