With most of us leading busy lives, finding time to volunteer may seem an impossible task. However, volunteering is incredibly rewarding and doesn’t have to take up too much time. The good thing is you can decide how much time you have to give. Supporting a charity close to your heart is often a good place to start if you are considering volunteering in your community.
Time to give back
I’m sure you will agree, time is our most precious asset, and it waits for no one. In March 2017, following the sudden and unexpected death of my ex-husband, we were introduced to Guy’s Gift for support. Prior to this, we sadly lost another two family members, under different circumstances. Our lives at this point had completely changed and grief surrounded us.
Having only experienced loss through my own eyes previously, I was now experiencing firsthand, the loss through the vulnerable lives of my daughters. I was fearful for the long-term impact of having suddenly lost their dad, would have on their future. It was frightening, unfair, and I doubted whether the support I was giving would ever be enough.
We all process, act, behave and deal with life experiences differently and I could see this instantly with both my girls. They are sisters; however, they express their grief very differently to one another. We were going through an emotional roller-coaster in which they were unable to express how they felt. They were too young, too numb to process what had happened or what was happening. There was disbelief and there was anger – lots of it at times! We started accepting that sometimes we need the support of others to process how we feel, because how we adjust to our lives without the person we have lost, is so hard and there no right or wrong. As an adult, I had experienced this. For my girls, I could only imagine how they were feeling. I’ll never truly know what it’s like to go through such trauma at such a young age.
Choosing to Volunteer
That’s the reason why I decided to do what I can to support other families, children, or expert counsellors to do more. The following year, 2018, with an overwhelming urge to give back and support a charity, I approached Guy’s Gift. Giving my time to volunteer was something so simple and yet so rewarding. For me, once I’d made the choice to volunteer, it was as clear as day that I had 100% done the right thing.
Of course, at the time, I wasn’t sure whether they’d accept me as a volunteer given the support they had given to my daughter. However, they welcomed me with open arms!
At times it is time consuming, but it is so worth it, in that I get to continue more of the fantastic work Guy’s Gift provides other children and families within our local area. I volunteer in their group sessions, shadowing their counsellors with small groups of teenagers who are bereaved of a parent, grandparent or close relative.
Guy’s Gift – Bereavement Charity
The charity founded by Jackie and Stuart Potter who have personal experience of the impact of childhood bereavement on the family unit.
Guy’s Gift delivers bereavement support for children and young people throughout Coventry and Warwickshire. Their early intervention service is open to 5- to 25-year-olds and tackles a range of emotional concerns. The aim is to support these individuals to achieve their full potential and continue their lives in a meaningful way. Every child and young person will get support in a way that suits them, whether that’s one-to-one counselling and support or group support.
Volunteering has been so beneficial for me in the last three to four years. By taking the time to step away from the day-to-day tasks I’ve been able to make a difference to others. I’ve also learnt to be fully present when offering support to others and the importance of coming together to share similar experiences.
The shocking statistics
The one thing I remember, as if it were yesterday, was reading statistics like the below stats back in 2017 whilst feeling so alone. They shocked me. The number of children experiencing the loss of parent before the age of 16.
According to ChildhoodBereavementNetwork.Org.UK by the age of 16, 4.7 % or around 1 in 20 young people will have experienced the death of one or both of their parents (Parsons 2011)
We estimate that in 2015, 23,600 parents died in the UK, leaving dependent children (23,200 in 2014). That’s one parent every 22 minutes.
If you are interested in finding out more about Guy’s Gift or the support they provide then do get in touch.
Thank you, Lisbeth and the entire team at Guy’s Gift for allowing us to use the image https://www.guysgift.co.uk/news/tnlcf-award