A hard-working volunteer has spoken of the immense satisfaction she gets from lending her services to a charity’s Help at Home service.
Evelyn Foster spares three hours a week to help East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), which supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions.
Its Help at Home service pairs volunteers with a family so they can provide vital practical support with things like gardening, decorating or any other tasks the family needs doing. The service also includes helping with dog-walking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, sibling support and DIY.
Evelyn, who lives in Brantham, on the on the Essex-Suffolk border, volunteers for a family that accesses the services at The Treehouse, in Ipswich.
She said: “It’s continuous work looking after a disabled child with complex health issues and parents don’t always get a full night’s sleep, so for me to give up three hours a week is nothing.
“I leave their home knowing I’ve made a difference and the jobs I’ve done they needn’t worry about. I know the mum is very grateful and I leave feeling happy and satisfied with my contribution.
“The whole family benefits as it frees up time at the weekend. It means they can spend time together and make memories, rather than worrying about housework.”
Evelyn, who is married with one daughter and two grandchildren, is a long-term supporter of EACH. She has previously bought raffle tickets and Christmas cards and describes its work as “amazing”.
The seed of volunteering was planted after hearing more during a door-to-door campaign encouraging people to sign up for the charity’s lottery.
“We got chatting about Help at Home, which was the first time I’d heard about it,” said the 74-year-old, who spent most of her working life doing secretarial work and retired in 2008 after 25 years at the Royal Hospital School, in Holbrook.
“At the time, I was retired but busy helping look after my grandchildren. Then, a couple of years later, just after we’d come out of lockdown, I saw a newspaper letter written by the volunteer co-ordinator outlining the work of the Help at Home volunteers.
“I was now in a position to help so got in touch and applied.”
After some initial training, Evelyn was matched with a family and duly met them along with the volunteer co-ordinator.
“They said they’d like help with tidying and cleaning and I said I could go for three hours once a week,” she said.
“Mum was there for the first two weeks but, as she’d returned to work part-time, an arrangement was made for me to let myself in. I find it so satisfying and would encourage anyone to give it a try.
“It can be as little or often as you like, undertaking various tasks. It could be a one-off job like decorating or regular weekly help, depending on what’s needed and how much time the volunteer can spare.”