Monday, 01 June 2020 00:00

‘I want to help again like I used to.’

Written by  Becky Fulton
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‘I want to help again like I used to.’

Volunteers who support East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) have recorded a heartfelt video to mark the start of Volunteers’ Week, in which they have described the impact the COVID-19 outbreak has had on their experiences helping the charity.

The video features seven volunteers from all across the region, including: Phillipa Palmer, Fundraising Office Volunteer from Brooke, Norfolk; Jackie Creighton, Fundraising Office Volunteer and EACH Presenter from East Dereham, Norfolk; Margaret Baynton, Treasurer of Norwich Friends Group from Norwich, Norfolk; Tony Golding, Fundraising Volunteer from Felixstowe, Suffolk; John Skoyles, Fundraising and EACH Help at Home Volunteer from Ipswich, Suffolk; Michael Barbour, EACH Fundraising volunteer from Earith, Cambridgeshire; Lynn Saunders Events and Fundraising Volunteer from Milton, Cambridgeshire.

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Many expressed concerns for the charity that has received a significant funding hit, mentioning fundraising events they planned to support such as EACH’s Bubble Rush events, which were set to take place in Saffron Walden, Norwich, Huntingdon and King’s Lynn this summer. Some have now been moved to autumn this year and others to summer next year. Funding has not only been affected by cancelled or postponed fundraising events, but also by the closure of EACH’s 43 shops. EACH relies on some 1,000 of its 1,700volunteers to support its retail operation.

Those in the video also told of their frustration at not being able to help support families like they usually would, but hope in the near future they can resume their fundamental support activities again.

Michael, who has volunteered since 2012, said: “The frustration at the moment is we can’t do any of these things. We can’t go out to raise funds, we can’t go out to help anybody. We can’t help the staff in the hospices, who are doing a fantastic job trying to keep this vital work going.”

John is another volunteer raring to get back to duties, including offering practical support to families as part of the EACH Help at Home service. He said: “Clearly things have changed. We can’t fundraise in the way we used to, but one thing is for certain, those families were there before coronavirus, they’ll be there during coronavirus and they’re going to be there after coronavirus. As a volunteer, I’m going to be there, too. I want to help again like I used to.”

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The services EACH offers to families experiencing the most traumatic times any parents, siblings or other relatives could possibly go through, transforms lives.

Lynn said: “My brother died when he was nine-months-old. I was only five-years-old. I have very few memories of him, but I know if EACH had been around then I would have been able to make some special memories that I could’ve cherished for the rest of my life.”

Hannah Milbourne Volunteer Services & Development Manager said: “We have all been thinking about our amazing volunteers and this video has been a huge motivational boost. The help they provide the charity and the families we support is vital, whether that’s through EACH’s Help at Home services, fundraising events or helping to run our shops. We hope they’re staying safe and we can’t wait to welcome them back when it’s safe to do so, but also when the time is right for them.”

“There is lots to consider on behalf of our families, staff, volunteers and supporters, but we are taking the time to plan, and we will make sure we comply fully with all the relevant government guidance and be ready in the safest way possible.

“We are beginning to do this by welcoming back our volunteer gardeners from the beginning of June and a select number of shops expected to open on the 15th.”

EACH supports around 450 families of children and young people with life-threatening conditions, including around 100 bereaved families, at any one time.

The charity has continued providing end-of-life care and bereavement support throughout lockdown, but suspended planned face-to-face care as it helps families shield their children from the coronavirus. Staff are now supporting families the best way they can remotely by phone or online, but need continued funding to be able to start offering a full range of services as soon as it is safe to do so.

To donate to EACH now go to www.justgiving.com/campaign/each-covid19. Alternatively, for inspiration to do your own at-home fundraising visitwww.each.org.uk/get-involved.

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Last modified on Monday, 01 June 2020 20:03

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