Children in Hospital Ireland
Despite only forming in March of this year, the 1-to-1 Child and Family Support Volunteers have already spent over 125 hours supporting the patients in Temple Street Children’s Hospital and their families. They serve long-term patients of the hospital, children who are stuck waiting for the setup of transitional care at home, supporting hospital social worker requests, covering family emergencies, special occasions, permitting parents to attend meetings, as well as allowing parents time to travel home and spend time with their other children.
Children look forward to their visits with the red shirted “singing ladies” who bring fun, like toys and art supplies, while also providing respite for caregivers. The nursing staff regularly have to reassure an 18 month old little boy who is always asking after the volunteers who come to visit him every Sunday, going for walks around the ward or playing peekaboo. These volunteers know the best songs, come bearing stories and games, and inspire laughter in children in a challenging situation.
This 1-on-1 time is not just fun, but makes the children feel special and cared for emotionally. It is not just babysitting, but instead a special friend who comes to visit them. Parents juggling the complex caregiving needs of a sick child find relief in the knowledge that their child is enjoying his time while they have a moment to handle other needs.
The Kindness Krew Homeless Group is Jade, Roslyn, Claire, Sandra, Analu and Jess, and they have been serving the unhoused community in Cork for almost two years. Every Wednesday and Sunday in Cork City Centre, outside the Savoy Patrick Street, they come together to provide a hot meal for anyone in need and each time more than 100 meals are distributed. They source donations, shop, cook, and share food as well as supplies like tents, sleeping bags and clothing, which is a lifeline for the homeless.
But these women have found that just as important as the material resources they provide are the emotional connection they share with those who use their services. They are there to listen to people of all ages, without judgment and with a deep understanding of the fact that anyone could be in those difficult circumstances. A warm smile and shared laughter over a cuppa are guaranteed with the Krew! Bonds form with regular users and for those isolated or struggling, the community aspect bolsters spirits.
The Kindness Krew’s Christmas Party had a special guest attend-Santa Claus himself handed out presents to children who might not be receiving any other gifts that year. “The kids were jumping with excitement,” says one attendant. Service users brought their guitars and carols were shared, lifting the spirits of everyone.
Galway Rape Crisis Centre
The Psychological Supporter Team are an important group of 21 volunteers operating within the Galway Rape Crisis Centre. They provide independent psychological support within the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit for people of all gender identities and a wide span of ages who have recently experienced trauma. The SATU can be retraumatizing as it is invasive, with medical examinations and forensic evidence gathering. Volunteers provide survivors with crisis intervention and support, actively listen to them, believe them, respect their choices, and are non-judgmental. They support more than 100 survivors each year.
The intervention of the PST is not just valuable in the short term, assisting in processing emotions and giving them a safe and constant figure during a chaotic time, but research has shown that the survivors who meet with the PST are more likely to seek out longer term counseling to help them integrate the experience into their everyday life. The PST helps to plant the seeds to develop into healthy coping and processing.
The services of the GRCC Psychological Support Team are available 24/7, 365 days a year, and unfortunately their services were in even more demand during COVID. Despite that, the group has also continued to grow, with new members joining those who have been assisting for almost ten years. They undergo specialised training and commit to being there to support survivors wholeheartedly.