Kirsty offers support to a family in Aberdeen as a CHAS Home Support volunteer.
Kirsty explains how supporting with housework makes an impact on the family that she supports and on her.
Many years ago, when I was studying in Glasgow, my now husband got a job in Aberdeen. I moved up to join him, continued to study and work, and then my husband’s career gave us the opportunity to move abroad. Now, several countries, adventures, and two decades later (with a short return to Scotland, and a second baby), we have returned home. Abroad, I kept myself busy volunteering in schools, libraries, fundraising, etc. When I first got back home to Scotland, it was a case of negotiating my children through exams, new schools and house renovations. Then Covid and lockdown hit! Now, I am in the position of having a husband at home for the first time ever, an increasingly independent teenager, and a student living away from home. Volunteering has given me the opportunity to feel that I am involved again in the community. It has also allowed me to meet new people, gain some new skills and has given me a new sense of purpose.
I have wanted to volunteer for ages. I wanted to be involved with a charity that helped families locally. I kept an eye on the Volunteer Aberdeen website, and at first I saw an advert for volunteers to accompany the CHAS nurses and help with sibling support. That was just when Covid happened. A few months later, during lockdown, I saw another advert from CHAS for Home Support Volunteers, and applied. Home Support Volunteering appeals to me as it means you can be there for a family when they are most in need. In times of crisis, it’s the little things like help with housework, sibling support, and a chance to share your worries, that can really make a difference.
Training with CHAS took place over zoom during lockdown. I was quite anxious to take part in the first zoom training, as I had never done it before. Once everyone was introduced, technical difficulties were overcome and we became comfortable chatting, it was a fun and rewarding experience. I felt well informed and fully guided throughout the whole process.
Everyone at CHAS has been so friendly and welcoming. We have even managed a few volunteer coffee meet ups now that it is possible again. Monthly meet ups on zoom help keep you motivated and informed.
Since October, I have been matched with a lovely CHAS family. One morning a week, I spend a few hours providing practical support. This involves helping Mum with house cleaning. However, it is much more than that. As we change beds, dust, hoover and clean together, Mum gets the chance to talk about her life and worries, and all that is happening. It is important as she has very little time to herself, and very little time to chat to someone else.
The family have two boys of primary school age, with the child who uses CHAS services being the eldest. We discovered that the youngest child shares the same birthday as me, and he made me a beautiful birthday card. That was special. The family have a big handsome dog who takes great pleasure in hiding my dusting cloth or winding Mum up by jumping right into the center of a freshly made bed!
I will never underestimate the faith and trust that the family has put in me to spend time in their home.
Volunteering is important to me as it has given me the confidence that I can go out and make a difference. You can forget about your own life for a few hours as you are totally focused on helping someone else. You feel valued, as doing a little housework or chatting can mean that you relieve just a little stress for these families, and hopefully give them a little extra time to spend with their little ones.
I challenged myself to do 280,000 Steps in February for CHAS. I would not have found out about this fundraiser if I hadn’t started volunteering with Home Support. It was such a good thing to do. There was an online Facebook group, with everyone encouraging each other, posting photos and adding stories. It really motivated you to get outside and keep fit while raising some money for CHAS. I hope to do more things like this in the future too.