Hard-working Jo Dive says she feels a “huge sense of satisfaction” helping families caring for children with life-threatening conditions. Jo is a valued East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) volunteer, who lends her support to the charity’s successful Help at Home service. It means going into a family’s home and providing vital practical support with things like gardening and decorating or any other tasks the family needs doing.
Jo, currently supporting two families, has been volunteering for four and a half years and got involved after seeing an advert in the Ely Eye newsletter. After contacting EACH, she was interviewed and attended a training session before being put in touch with her first family. She has now helped half a dozen families on a regular basis, as well as a similar amount on a one-off basis.
“I wanted to do something to help and liked the flexibility, without having to agree to formal hours,” said Jo, who is married and has children and grandchildren. “It suited me that I could work my volunteering around other commitments. That was four and a half years ago and I’ve learnt so much in that time. I’ve met so many people and had some very interesting experiences. It’s also something I find extremely rewarding.
“Having children is hard work, as many people will testify, but these families have so many extra things to deal with and accommodate. Life is relentless and they appreciate the help, because anything we can do is one less thing they have to worry about.”
EACH’s Help at Home service also includes helping with tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, sibling support and DIY. Now, with Spring having arrived, bringing a multitude of gardening jobs, the charity is keen to hear from more volunteers willing to help the families it supports across Cambridgeshire and the rest of East Anglia.
“I’d recommend it to anyone, even if they can only help for a couple of hours a month,” added Jo, who helps with gardening, decorating and general tidying. By volunteering, you’re making a huge difference and that gives a huge sense of satisfaction. It’s a privilege being allowed into people’s homes but it’s about more than that – it’s about people putting their trust in EACH. That element is huge because it’s all about building relationships – something that was especially important during the pandemic.
“We kept the service going as best we could and did as much as we could, in accordance with Government guidelines. In many instances, volunteers were a valuable contact and a lifeline for families. Families know we wouldn’t be allowed into people’s homes if we weren’t deemed suitable and we’re trusted to do an honest job.”
Volunteers do not need to commit to a regular time slot and training and support is provided.