Kids’ volunteers help play, relax

2015-09-29 06:00
Friends of the Childrenand#039;s Hospital Association held a celebratory day to thank volunteers of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Friends of the Childrenand#039;s Hospital Association held a celebratory day to thank volunteers of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

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The Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association celebrated its volunteers at its annual general meeting at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital on Monday last week.

For the past 37 years the hospital has depended on volunteers to help cheer up the young patients and to show them the hospital is not a bad place – rather a place where they come to be nursed to health.

This year alone the hospital has had more than 700 volunteers come through the door. The Friends Association (Focha) doesn’t doubt that the volunteers form a backbone for the patients’ recovery.

Volunteers are recruited locally but there are also international volunteers.Volunteers play with the children, read for them, help them to relax and take them for outings once in a while. They stay between one week and six months, spending an average of 60 hours at the hospital.

This is why the Friends took time to celebrate these volunteers.

David Stephens, director of Focha, says volunteers are very important.

“Besides the medical treatment the children get at the hospital they also need to be helped emotionally and helped to relax. This is what the volunteers do best. They really help to keep our children happy and, though some of them might be very sick, the work that the volunteers do with them is amazing. They really change lives by putting smiles on the children’s faces,” he says.

Stephens adds that the volunteer programme is a melting pot for cultures, skills and knowledge.

“This enhances the healing process of our children. Volunteers are active throughout the hospital wards and in the outpatients’ clinic. They change lives. They support the challenges of the healthcare system and support in nurturing the partnerships with communities,” he says.

Part of the celebratory day’s activities were special awards given to five volunteers who retired after a combined 101 years of service. Jean Harker (88) volunteered for 31 years, Claire Hoffman (71) for 29 years, Neville Atkinson for 29 years, Gwen MacCrae for 22 years, Joan Bryson for 10 years and Patricia Mentoor for nine years.

Stephens says there’s so much that wouldn’t be achieved without the volunteers.

“They really do a good job. They help heal a child. They give hope and care that is more than just medical care,” he says.

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