Together for Short Lives conference launches guide to establish volunteer services for families

Last week Together for Short Lives (TfSL) hosted a conference to launch Together We Can, a practical guide to help hospices and other organisations working in children’s palliative care support volunteers to work with the families of children with life-limiting conditions.

The guide draws on the experiences of families, volunteers and services from the Family Support Volunteering project, which piloted in 2014 and explored how volunteers can have a positive impact on the daily lives of families at home.

During the pilot, volunteers helped with everyday tasks like washing up, ironing, gardening and dog walking, as well as collecting prescriptions, playing with siblings and helping with their homework. This made it possible for the families to take much needed breaks from giving round-the-clock care and spend more quality time together.

Volunteers were recruited who lived near the families and who would fit into their lifestyles. To ensure this families were assessed based on their needs and what they wanted to gain from the service.

The conference was attended by hospices and children’s palliative care organisations from across England. Those speaking about taking part in the pilot confirmed its benefits: how volunteers enhanced the families’ quality of life, improved their ability to cope, and increased engagement with the community, like having someone to talk to, and having the time to be able to do this.

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