Friday, 22 July 2016

Volunteering ….not just working for free

Hi All, my name is Emma Saunters and I have been the Volunteer Community ambassador for Footsteps Counselling and care since September.

The aim of this blog post is to give you a bit of an insight of what being a volunteer is like. I can't really sum it up in one word, as for me it is a mixture of astonishing, inspiring and rewarding, with each week being so different from the next !

I will start by letting you know a bit about myself. I was a single mum at 20, and had my second child at 25 with my now husband. From the time I got pregnant with my eldest, I hadn't worked. I was bringing up 2 children , but how do I write that on a C.V. I didn't know , but I knew I had skills , I just didn't use them in 'actual' work.

So, in September 2015 I was sitting there one day , my youngest was due to start nursery soon, and I thought 'arghhh, what am I going to do with this free time!'. I contemplated with sorting the house out , going for coffee with others that were in the same situation as me, but no I was looking into the future more. I guessed that one day soon I would actually have to get a job ….and this worried me because I had not worked for over 5 years !

I had taken it upon myself to find somewhere where I could give my time and in return I could develop my skills , so I would have something other than 'bringing up kids' on my CV , which by the way includes many skills, but probably not so favourable if you were going for a job and were up against someone who had demonstrated those skills in work … I don't know it may just be me thinking that, but I'd rather be safe than sorry !

Anyway, the stuff that Footsteps do is very close to my heart and I wanted to help. Win, win situation really because by helping them I would be helping myself too, because whatever I did would go straight on my CV!

At first it was a bit daunting ! I didn't know if I was capable of it , as I had so much time out of work , but guessed I had to start somewhere. I soon got into it though and even now I drive home smiling after , because I know I have done something good, for Footsteps and for me.

Footsteps have enabled me to develop my skills , and even taught me new ones! I've made new friends , and instead of being sat looking at the washing pile at home , I'm working and making a difference!

That brings me onto my next point , how do I fit it all in, how many hours do I do and what is expected of me. It is important for me to have balance. To be honest it is quite flexible. I do what I can , when I can, and anything I do is much appreciated by Footsteps. I am also training to be a Counsellor so that takes a lot of my time, aswell as homelife and family. I do about 6 hours a week presently, but due to the holidays I can't do anymore , but thats is ok with volunteering, it's not like a full time job , anything you do is better than nothing at all.

Footsteps rely on their volunteers to operate , each and every one is cherished from the shop worker to what I am , the Community Ambassador, we are all needed and without us they wouldn't be able to do what they do.
Like I mentioned previously , there is not one word to describe volunteering, and for me it is not 'just working for free', the rewards I get from it completely outweigh anything else ! I've been in the local paper and today I even got to have an interview on the radio, pretty cool eh?!

If you have extra time on your hands , need skills to put on your CV, want to help in the community or just want to make a difference, please don't hesitate in contacting us.

Volunteering has changed my life and it could for you too !

Footsteps currently need volunteers for the following:

  • Shop workers and sorters
  • eBay support
  • Community Ambassadors to give talks and raise awareness in the community
  • Qualified counsellors
  • Trustees
  • Social Media support
  • Fundraising and events

So give us a call or send us a message!
01452 308618

Footsteps Counselling and Care provides free counselling support for anyone affected by pregnancy related issues, the loss of a baby for any reason and at any time and those struggling with infertility. Please see out 'about us' page at the top of this blog, visit our website, link to the right or visit our charity shop.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Footprints For Florence

Growing up, you always want to be part of a gang. At primary school, it was the girls who had the sparkly shoes with the toy in the heel and by secondary school, you just wanted to be ‘normal’ enough to fit in. I wasn’t sporty, but I loved Guides, youth group and drama and at one time in my mid-teens, I was doing something six nights a week – much to the dismay of my poor dad who was my taxi service.But there’s one club as an adult that nobody would choose to join because it means you share the same tragic, life-changing experience that no one should have to face. I’m a member of the babyloss club.

It had been 7 years since my son had been born and I was delighted to be expecting his little sister in August last year. I’d had a normal, healthy pregnancy – passing all my tests and scans with flying colours, right up until 36 weeks when we’d checked in on her progress and booked in for an elective caesarean in a fortnight’s time. There she was on our scan; moving around and practicing for the outside world.However, sometime in the following 48 hours, something happened. Nobody knows what it was or why – but our healthy, virtually full-term baby girl’s heart stopped beating and our world came crashing down.

We named her Florence and were lucky to spend as much time with her as we wanted in the hospital’s dedicated bereavement suite where we were able to have photos, take hand and footprints and somehow begin to come to terms with the senseless loss of our baby.

When we’d been home a number of weeks and the fuss had died down, it was Footsteps Counselling & Care that was there to provide counselling. I’d been given their card by the bereavement midwife while we were in hospital because, incredibly, there is no first-line NHS-funded counselling support for people who were in our position. Our sessions became my ‘safe’ space where I could say everything I was feeling – however graphic, or unpleasant, or un-mumlike. My counsellor, an unpaid volunteer, was unshockable and, because she had met bereaved parents before, she understood.

In the run up to what would have been Florence’s 1st birthday on 3 August this year, we’ve decided to commemorate her day by setting up the ‘Footprints for Florence’ campaign with the aim of raising money for Footsteps Counselling & Care, SANDS and Cruse Bereavement – the three charities that have looked after us both so wonderfully in those dark days and beyond.

The idea is simple – we want to celebrate her life with ‘good deeds’ by asking people to create their ‘footprint’ on the world in her memory. It could be anything: carrying out a random act of kindness, planting some wild flowers, watching for shooting stars, eating cake or making a difference somehow. Then, if you can, make a donation which will automatically be split exactly three ways between the  charities to help them continue their vital work.

We cannot change what happened to our little girl, but we can help make a difference in the world in her memory. 

Thank you for reading.

Thank you to our guest blogger Rachael.

Please do support the Footprints For Florence campaign

If you have been affected by the loss of a baby for any  reason or at any time, we can offer counselling support. Please get in touch on   
01452 308618, or via our Facebook page or website.

Footsteps Counselling and Care provide free counselling support for anyone affected by pregnancy related issues, the loss of  baby, infertility issues, childlessness, and post or prenatal depression.