International Volunteer Day: Meet Mark

International Volunteer Day: Meet Mark

Rainbow Trust
International Volunteer Day: Meet Mark image

Date published: 28 November 2023 by Katie Inglis

Mark shares his experience of volunteering with Rainbow Trust

The 5th of December marks International Volunteer Day. Mark has been volunteering for Rainbow Trust for 3 years and shares his experience with us.

Mark was an engineer before he took early retirement at the start of COVID after being offered voluntary severance and now enjoys getting out and being active around his local area with friends and his wife, Jane. He is a keen sailor and also enjoys kite surfing, cycling, and traveling abroad in his spare time.

Mark has been volunteering with Rainbow Trust’s Southampton Care Team for almost 3 years and primarily gives up his time to help drive families to and from hospital/treatment appointments.

Initially hearing about Rainbow Trust through Jane’s work as a neonatal nurse in Southampton, Mark and Jane felt the work Rainbow Trust was doing was crucial, and a worthy cause to give up time for.

‘As part of the Home Team Jane was responsible for supporting parents through the transition from their babies being on the ward to taking them to their own homes for the first time and caring for them. She saw just how difficult, emotionally as well as practically, this could be for parents and siblings of a very sick child and how beneficial the additional support of the Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers and Volunteers and their link the neonatal unit was in these cases.’

Mark’s role involves picking up families and taking them to their appointments, and then taking them home again afterward. For many families, having someone to drive them directly to the hospital not only reduces transport costs such as petrol and parking but also gives them a friendly, familiar face that they can trust and rely on.

‘With all that they are coping with parents, understandably, are often quite reserved when I first meet them but over time it’s nice when a connection builds and they become more communicative, and I can see that they are pleased to see me. I really enjoy this part of the role, and I’m pleased that I’m able to give them some support when they’re going through such challenging things.’

A particular highlight of Mark’s time at Rainbow Trust was the day that was organised by the Southampton team for siblings of seriously ill children. On this day, children were invited to have fun taking part in arts and crafts, playing games, and even tucking into a chocolate fountain!

‘I don’t normally meet the siblings of sick children, but this day made me appreciate just how incredible they all are. Whilst it is obviously nobody’s fault, with a very sick child in the family it is never going to be possible for them to be given the same amount of time and attention as would otherwise be the case. So, a day set up just for them was very special. Simple things like crafts and games they all just really enjoyed, and I too enjoyed being part of it.’

Another highlight of Mark’s was a particular incident where he was able to ‘just be there’ for a lady the day she was told that her daughter was going to go blind.

‘On the way home, she was obviously very distressed. But after a while she started to talk about her fears and worries. I couldn’t and didn’t say much but I could listen and try to appreciate her pain. It’s strange but when you are driving someone it somehow seems to make these moments less intense than they might otherwise be. I don’t know if I helped her, but I’d like to think that I did, a little at least’

Mark’s advice to other people thinking of volunteering for Rainbow Trust or doing any other voluntary work would be:

‘It’s all too easy to think of reasons not to volunteer. Instead try not to pre-judge what you might contribute, what your motivations are or what other people might think about the value of any contribution you make.
My experience tells me that, no matter how little or how much time you are able to give, you will be very much appreciated by both the team at the Rainbow Trust and those people that they help.'

If you’re interested in volunteering for Rainbow Trust, visit our jobs page to see our current opportunities or send us an email at [email protected].

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