Caring for a child with complex needs or a serious illness can be physically and emotionally draining. It also takes a lot of time, which for families at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) is often more precious than anything.
Help a family make precious memories by volunteering with EACH
That is why the charity is appealing for volunteers, from Cambridge to Ely, Huntingdon to Peterborough and everywhere in between, to support families in their home environment as part of its new EACH Help at Home service.
Whether you could spend a couple of hours a week or even an hour a month doing some cleaning, washing and ironing, or perhaps a little bit of gardening, the good cause wants to hear from you.
EACH Help at Home has been supporting families in other parts of the region since last summer. One family to have benefited from the service are the Maudes, who live in Colchester. Karen and Justin, who have two sons and a daughter Cara (pictured together), have received weekly visits of two-and-a-half to three hours from Clare Kendrick Robinson.
Cara has a rare metabolic condition that means she can’t break down fat and having too much in her diet would be poisonous for her.
Karen said: “EACH Help at Home has been a huge help to our family, especially me. For any mother-of-three life is a juggle, but when one of your children is medically complex and has been a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital over a long period there are many more demands on your time.
“I have spent so much time in London looking after my daughter. Knowing that someone would come in weekly to clean for a few hours took one worry away and allowed me more time to focus on my other children when I got home. It also took the pressure off my mother who wanted to help me and kept our house functioning when I was going to London. The service has provided a lifeline for our family and we are very grateful to Clare and EACH.”
Clare, 63, from Wivenhoe, was an education professional working with children with additional needs until she retired three years ago.
She went on to become involved with a film club and an arts centre but wanted to once again do something to help others in challenging circumstances.
She said: “I was aware when I started work with the family that it would be really useful for them to know the work I do would get done regularly - but what I really hadn't realised was just how rewarding it would prove to be for me.
“It’s good driving away after each visit knowing how much of a difference it makes to Karen that she doesn't any longer have to worry about getting the house cleaned.
“I’m looking forward to continuing work with the family in the future and would urge anyone with any amount of spare time, however little, to seriously consider becoming a volunteer – it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”
EACH is now rolling out its new service to support families in Cambridgeshire and West Essex, and Volunteer Co-ordinator Agnes Toth is on the hunt for volunteers.
She said: “We have over 100 children receiving care and support from our hospice based in Milton, so there are lots of families who could benefit from the generosity of a volunteer.
“Many are asking for help around the house, particularly with cleaning and ironing - one mum’s actually said her pile of ironing is as tall as she is! Anyone who can give a couple of hours of their time to help with housework would be very welcome.”
Agnes is holding two information sessions for anyone interested to find out more about EACH Help at Home volunteering roles. The first will be on Wednesday, 23 August between 10am and 11am and the second on Thursday, 7 September between 6pm and 7pm. Both will take place at EACH’s hospice off Church Lane in Milton.
If you would like to attend one of the sessions or to find out more, please contact Agnes on 07889 251385 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) aims to maximise the quality of life for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, and to support their families.