Brentwood volunteer inspired to help families with seriously ill children supported by Rainbow Trust

A woman from Brentwood, Essex who volunteered for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity has become a full-time Family Support Worker after being inspired by its work helping families caring for a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.

Abi, who volunteered for eight months before joining Rainbow Trust full time in October 2016, said one of the most important parts of both roles is remembering to have fun with the families.

Abi spoke about her experiences and encouraged other supporters to come forward, ahead of Volunteers’ Week from 1-7 June, which celebrates volunteers’ contributions across the UK.

As a Rainbow Trust volunteer, Abi assisted a Family Support Worker, spending time with families and helping at events and drop-in groups, where families have a chance to meet others also caring for a seriously ill child. Working as a nanny four days a week and having recently moved to Brentwood, Abi was keen to volunteer on her day off.

“I wanted to get some more experience and I love working with kids and families, I found it very rewarding and I applied for the Family Support Worker role. After many years working with children who were quite privileged, it was nice to give something different back.”

Abi is thoroughly enjoying her new role as a Family Support Worker.

“The team is like a lovely, big family and it’s great to be doing it full-time.”

“My role is fun. I am silly with the kids and play with the ill children and their siblings and sit with Mum or Dad and have a chat. I also help with practical chores. An important part of my role is to take the time to have fun with the children. It’s about helping the whole family.”

Abi currently helps 25 families around Essex and she called on more volunteers to come forward, to help in one of the many different volunteer roles Rainbow Trust has on offer.

Abi said: “We are always looking for people who can drive families to hospital appointments. That is a very important part of the role of a volunteer or Family Support Worker because it means families don’t have the stress of driving into central London and the worry about parking. It can also be therapeutic for families being able to sit in the car and talk or snooze during the journeys.

“Give volunteering a try. It’s a wonderful way to gain new skills and meet new friends and it’s a wonderful way to feel good about yourself as well. It is not doom and gloom, it’s about having fun as well and if you make the families smile and take their minds off things then that’s good.”

Andrea Kelley, Volunteer Manager at Rainbow Trust, said: “We are so pleased Abi volunteered with us and became a Family Support Worker after being inspired by the Essex Care Team. She recognises the importance of bringing a smile to the families she supports. The children enjoy having fun with her and it is a joy having her on the team. Family Support Workers and volunteers enable us to reach out to more communities and raise awareness of our work, which enables us to help more families caring for a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.”