Cath has been volunteering with CHAS for 15 years in a variety of roles.
She now offers family support through CHAS at Home.
I became aware of CHAS through one of my senior pupils who asked if we could raise some money as her niece was using Rachel House. I drove some of the Seniors in the minibus during the Open Days. On these visits I decided I would like to do something for CHAS when I retired. Fortunately Robin House was about to open just after I had retired and I was successful in becoming a volunteer Speaker.
I have been volunteering now for almost 15 years and have done many things other than as a Speaker..........bucket shakes, collection can placements and banking, Mail shots, Open Day Tours of Robin House, stalls at summer fayres, Christmas card sales etc. In early August 2017 volunteers were asked if any of us would be interested in helping families in their own homes. I volunteered and did the training in late August and started with my family at the beginning of September. The family consisted at that time of mum, dad, a 13 year old girl who uses Robin House and a 3 year old girl. Mum was pregnant and due in November 2017. The family is Polish and they live near Glasgow. I was a bit apprehensive about going to help this family but after just a few weeks I realised it was the right thing to do. I feel comfortable with the family and I know that they trust me and respect what I do to help them. There is a mutual respect here from both mum and dad and me.
I was a bit apprehensive about going to help this family but after just a few weeks I realised it was the right thing to do.
We have lots of fun playing, reading, games indoors and outdoors. In the summer we go on walks, to the park and playground and if it's raining we go to the soft play area where they can run about at their pleasure. On Fridays I go over for 11:30 so that we can go to the local Secondary School for Trampoline physiotherapy for the 15 year old.....it would be impossible for mum to take her in the wheelchair and look after the 2 year old by herself. We often would go to the supermarket as I could take one of the girls. Simple things that become difficult when you have a disabled child and a baby. I look forward to seeing the family each week. What I especially look forward to is sitting down with mum and having tea, cake and a chat. I think it's really important to get time to do this as mum doesn't get the opportunity to do this with anyone else. We chat about everything and anything....and laugh.
One day mum asked what size of shoe I was. I told her and asked why she wanted to know. She was going to by me slippers to wear about the house. I had many pairs at home so brought a pair!
The 5 year old changed school in January. Mum wrote a note to the teacher saying that her "Scottish Granny" would be picking her up on a Wednesday and a Friday! I felt touched by this.
The girls Polish gran brought back a story book for the girls....in Polish of course. The 5 year old asked me to read a story but I told her I didn't know any Polish. Just then two carers came in to get the 15 year old ready for bed. I made up a story based on the pictures.......the carers were impressed at my knowledge of Polish but I admitted I could read pictures really well! And of course the next time I read the story I got it wrong!!!
During this lockdown we speak via WhatsApp video call at least twice a week for about an hour. If mum has any concerns she is able to talk about them. Again we chat about what's going on at the moment and about how the family is coping.
I am missing my visits and I know the family is too. I look forward to seeing them all again. It has been a wonderful experience and I have been matched with a wonderful family.