Today is International Volunteer’s Day and what better day to celebrate and thank our volunteers for all the work they have done supporting families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For some families, their Home-Start volunteer has been a lifeline for them during lockdown.

Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so we want to take this opportunity on International Volunteers’ Day to celebrate and give thanks to each and every one of them.

Jan Norburn, 62 from Sale was a sick children’s nurse before she retired and became a Home-Start volunteer for Home-Start Trafford, Salford & Wigan. Jan will be spending Christmas delivering Christmas Eve boxes to families to spread the spirit of kindness. 

Jan said: “Becoming a Home-Start volunteer filled a hole in my life and helped me to realise who I am. It’s a massive part of my life and will naturally form a big part of my Christmas. I’m still in touch with the families I’ve supported previously and I will be contacting them during Christmas week to check-in with them and see if they are okay.  

Many families don’t have family members living nearby so to have a friendly voice, especially during a year like the one we’ve had, is so important. By being in contact, it helps reduce feelings of isolation.

“The week before Christmas I’ll be helping to put together Christmas Eve boxes for all the families we support. Many of them are living with money worries, so providing a treat like this helps relieve some of the financial burden, and of course it’s lovely for the kids. A couple of days before Christmas I will mask and glove up, stick on some fairy wings and deliver the boxes to the families – I can’t wait.

“It feels so nice to be able to spread some joy in what has been such a horrible year for everyone. I can identify with the families how hard it has been. I have two new grandchildren born in lockdown who I’ve hardly seen. But, as hard as that is, I feel lucky to be in a position where I get to deliver some happiness to families who deserve a break.”

Another volunteer working tirelessly to ensure families in her local area get the Christmas they deserve, is Rhona Rowe.

Rhona, 53 from Bideford, North Devon has been a volunteer for Home-Start Torridge & North Devon for eight years. Rhona will be in close contact with the family she is supporting during Christmas. Rhona’s support will include one-to-one telephone support, signposting to other agencies and providing practical help so that families have access to what they need.

Rhona said: “I’ve seen families really struggle with anxiety and isolation this year. With no facilities open to help entertain children, home can feel quite stressful for both parents and their kids.

“For many families Christmas can be a difficult time of year, and this year is likely to be especially difficult. I’ll be in close contact with the family I support throughout the festive season.

“The support I provide to them is responsive to their needs. It may be that they just want some reassurance, or they may need some practical help, like doing a food shop. At a time when supermarkets are so busy, it’s not easy to take the kids and do a weekly shop.   Whatever it is they need, they know I’m just a phone call away.”

If you would like to volunteer for your local Home-Start, you can register your interest, here