Volunteers Week 2022: Step mum and daughter tell their story of volunteering for Rainbow Trust

A volunteer duo are calling on more volunteers to come forward and help Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity support families with a seriously ill child, to mark Volunteers Week from 1-7 June 2022.

Step mum and daughter Cath Hopkins and Sammy Smith have been volunteering as Regional Ambassadors for Rainbow Trust since 2014 and are calling on other residents in and around the Southampton area to join them and volunteer. The charity has seen a steep fall in its volunteer numbers since the start of the pandemic with a 28% decline in its number of volunteers.

Cath says:

“I have been Sammy’s step mum since she was ten years old, so knowing Sammy it was no surprise when she announced in 2014 that she wanted to do a charity skydive for a children’s charity! But when she told me she had chosen to jump in aid of Rainbow Trust it brought back loads of memories and a lot of emotions as, unbeknownst to Sammy, my family had been supported by the charity from 1990 to 1993 when my younger brother was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. He very sadly passed away aged just seven and I know the support from Rainbow Trust was a huge help to my family at the time.”

In 2014 as well as her skydive, Sammy also organised a work raffle and a football tournament and raised almost £2,000 for Rainbow Trust. Following on from this success, the pair attended the London Marathon as part of the Rainbow Trust cheer squad and subsequently got the volunteering bug.

Sammy says:

“The skydive was just the start. Since then we have both volunteered at several organised events like the London Marathon and have also organised lots of events ourselves at work, such as cake sales and dress down days. We even got my children involved with Rainbow Trust’s 28,000 Steps challenge in February 2021.
“Pure fate brought Rainbow Trust back into Cath’s life when I chose to support them and I could see it meant so much to her. Together we decided to continue fundraising whenever we could, as well as volunteering our time”

Neither Cath nor Sammy had any previous experience of fundraising or volunteering prior to becoming Regional Ambassadors for Rainbow Trust and they are encouraging others to join them and sign up to volunteer.

Cath says:

“We really enjoy going to events and representing Rainbow Trust. We are both very sociable and enjoy meeting people, so being an Ambassador is the perfect role for us and it is also a way for me to say ‘thank you’ for the support they provided to our family in the past. We love meeting fellow volunteers too and are always made to feel so welcome. Of course, the bonus is that we are doing something positive. As well as fundraising, event attendance and raising awareness, we have also been called on to attend local rainbow Trust meetings in Southampton, so it’s interesting and varied.”

Sammy says:

“I love all the different aspects of my Ambassador role but a stand out memory for both of us would be an event at Paulton’s Park a couple of years ago which we found so rewarding. We were able to meet all the families that Rainbow Trust support in the Southern area and welcome them as they arrived. We then spent the day chatting with and listening to parents, watching them and their children dancing and singing, and enjoying the rides whilst painting everyone’s faces with rainbows - even the dads’! It was such a good day connecting with the families and the wider team and it demonstrated the true purpose of why we do this.”

Cathy and Sam continue:

“We would encourage anyone with a bit of spare time to join us. You won't regret it as it is genuinely so much fun and very rewarding to be a volunteer with such a great team of people doing such vital work.”

Rainbow Trust has ten different volunteer positions available, ranging from office volunteers and drivers to family support volunteers and regional ambassadors. Rainbow Trust relies on the dedication of its team of 250 volunteers. Whether you can give a few hours, a day or two or want to become a lifelong volunteer, your time really does count.

Maddie Thomas, Rainbow Trust’s Volunteer Manager says:

“Volunteers Week is an opportunity for Rainbow Trust to really celebrate our wonderful volunteers and say a massive thank you our volunteers for their continued help and dedication. Volunteers like Cath and Sammy have been vital in helping us continue to fundraise and raise awareness in the Southampton region. We would love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved and join Cath and Sammy and our team of incredible volunteers.”

Rainbow Trust supports families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. When a child has a serious illness, family life is turned upside down and time becomes more precious than ever. Rainbow Trust pairs each family with an expert Family Support Worker who enables them to make the most of time together, giving them practical and emotional support, whenever they need it, for as long as is needed. The COVID-19 pandemic piled further unimaginable pressure onto these parents and children, and the charity’s Family Support Workers continue to provide a lifeline to them.