A volunteer who helps families being supported by a children’s hospice has described her role as an “honour and privilege”. Kate Littlechild started lending a hand in 2011, working at the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shop in Histon Road, Cambridge.
Six years later she was told about the charity’s Help at Home service, which involves helping families to provide vital practical support with chores like cooking, cleaning, decorating, gardening, dog-walking and DIY.
Kate signed up and has since supported three families, as well as doing occasional, one-off jobs like wrapping Christmas presents. It is a role she is passionate about and would heartily recommend to others.
“It’s a privilege to be welcomed into someone’s home and they’re always so grateful and appreciative,” said the 71-year-old, from Histon.
“I mainly do housework, including ironing, hoovering and changing bed linen, and enjoy it very much. I see it as human nature to want to help people and it’s satisfying and rewarding to feel you’re making a difference, making lives just that little bit easier.
“I’m very careful not to build too close a relationship with families as that wouldn’t be particularly helpful to anyone. However, I feel it’s good for families to have someone different to speak to – someone who isn’t a family member or close friend.
“From my point of view, it’s nice to listen and I hope that side of things can be just as important as anything.”
Kate, who has three children and three grandchildren, feels a close connection with EACH. She looks back with fondness on her years spent volunteering in Histon Road, which she did in tandem with a short spell supporting the finance team at Milton.
“The EACH shops aren’t like other charity shops, which can be a bit run-down and disorganised,” she said.
“Ours are different and of such a high standard. People know they can go in and pick up quality items at affordable items. There was a sense of teamwork when I was there and everyone was thrilled when someone donated something that was going to make money for the charity.
“Then, one afternoon, an EACH trustee came in and mentioned Help at Home. I was very interested and liked the sound of directly helping a family, so signed up straightaway.”
Kate believes others share her affection for the charity – something she picked up on while helping man the EACH stand at last month’s Cambridge Beer Festival. She was joined on volunteering duty there by husband Tony.
“It’s such a wonderful charity and I’m happy to help in any way I can,” she said.
“People are always interested and supportive. There’s definitely a feeling of goodwill and I noticed that the other day. People spotted our stand and you could see the recognition on their faces. Thankfully, it meant they were willing to put their hands in their pockets!”
EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions. In addition to Milton, it has two other hospices in Suffolk and Norfolk.
To read more about Help at Home, click here.
Marie Huggins, EACH Help at Home Volunteer Co-ordinator, said: “I’m so immensely proud of volunteers like Kate. As a team, what they lack in numbers, they make up for in commitment and dedication and often respond to requests for extra volunteering.
“They genuinely make a real difference and we’re so grateful for their immense contribution.”