‘A lovely volunteer put both my children at ease’
A VOLUNTEER at Children’s Health Ireland in Crumlin has shared her passion for the role and difference it makes to children and parents who attend the hospital, and is encouraging others to consider volunteering.
Liv Roche, 21, from Walkinstown, began volunteering in the hospital last spring as a JustAsk volunteer for Children in Hospital Ireland (CIH).
JustAsk volunteers help people attending the hospital with all manner of practical support, such as bringing them to the different areas of the hospital and keeping children occupied with play packs.
The volunteers commit to doing one two-hour shift, in either the morning or afternoon, each week for a year.
Liv said she initially felt some trepidation when she did her first shift as a volunteer last May, but swiftly developed a passion for it and looks forward to her shift every week.
“I’d never been in the hospital beforehand, so it was new to me,” said Liv, who is a past pupil of St Paul’s Secondary School in Greenhills.
“When I got there the receptionist, who was lovely, gave me the keys for where I needed to go and I met the other volunteer I was partnered with.”
The volunteers typically work in pairs and offer support to both parents and children during their visit to the hospital.
Explaining what motivates her to clock in for her shift as a JustAsk volunteer every week, Liv said: “It’s just making kids smile.”
“That’s one of the things I love about it, especially because a lot of them are going through things we can’t relate to.
“We were in a cancer ward last week chatting away to the kids, and none of them would’ve been older than five.
“We gave them stickers and talked to them and made them smile – that’s the best part of it.”
While the impact of the volunteers on the children is clear, they also help to alleviate the stress that parents feel when their children are admitted to the hospital or are attending outpatient appointments.
One mother who was waiting with her child in the outpatient department remarked: “My children were at their yearly appointment.
“When the appointment became too much for my children, my husband took them for a walk around the hospital to try relieving everybody’s stress.
“Luckily, they came across a lovely volunteer from CIH in the outpatient waiting area who put both of my children at ease by doing puzzles with them.
“It was so lovely and really helped my stress levels also.”
Liv, who is a sociology student in UCD, added that the JustAsk volunteers take a lot of enjoyment from helping hospital visitors in a stressful situation, and she is encouraging others to volunteer.
“I was really nervous at the start,” she explained. “I hadn’t got much experience with kids, so I was worried about that, but the parents are always there so you’re not on your own.
“You don’t have many expectations, because every day is different, but it’s totally worth doing. I love it.
“And anyone else I know that is a JustAsk volunteer loves it. It’s just a really lovely thing to do.”
The volunteer role is suitable for people who are energetic, proactive, approachable, friendly, enjoy engaging with children, can work as part of a team, and are comfortable in a busy, sensitive and diverse environment.
Volunteers are needed in the morning from 9am to 11am and in the afternoon from 1.30pm to 3.30pm approximately and need to commit to one shift a week for one year.
If you are interested in learning more about a JustAsk volunteer role with CIH email firstname.lastname@example.org or for further information visit childreninhospital.