An inspirational pair of volunteers for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland – better known as CHAS – have entered the spotlight as ambassadors for the charity on Volunteers’ Week, running till 7 June.
They represent some 850 individuals who give up free time to contribute to the culture of care and empathy that CHAS is known for.
Douglas Cameron is a 49-year-old from St Andrews, who claimed the prestigious title of Volunteer of the Year at the Hospice UK Awards last winter.
He first signed up to volunteer at Rachel House Children’s Hospice in Kinross with his daughter Lucy in 2016. As Activities volunteers, the duo give their Sunday mornings to children in the care of CHAS and their siblings in residence at the hospice, supporting them to participate in arts, crafts and leisure activities of their own choosing.
As an IT volunteer too, Douglas has been instrumental in transforming volunteer communications at CHAS through implementing and enhancing the Workplace by Facebook platform, enabling the charity to reach, engage and retain more volunteers to support children and families across Scotland.
Douglas said: ‘I am a very proud advocate of CHAS and it is very humbling to represent all the good that so many people do. Volunteering gives me a tremendous sense of worth, CHAS staff add to that by always making me feel valued.
‘In 2016, my teenage daughter Lucy was still at school and had ambitions of being a paediatrician. I knew that CHAS would be an ideal means of encouraging those ambitions, so we signed up together to volunteer two years ago. My initial experience of CHAS was and mainly still is Sunday mornings at Rachel House fixing the technology and getting involved in activities. It’s actually the most fun and relaxing thing I do in a week, it’s generally a joy.’
The benefits of volunteering have been life-changing for the Camerons. Douglas continued: ‘Lucy is off to study medicine at university now, in part thanks to her experience at Rachel House. In a nutshell, volunteering is good for you. It doesn’t take much to find a bit of time, particularly if you have a skill or hobby that you enjoy anyway.
‘There are so many ways to contribute, offer up your time for crafts, driving, gardening, things you might do fairly thanklessly in your day job or at home in daily life, could contribute a lot of value to a charitable cause. You might be surprised at how little you have to move out of your comfort zone to make a difference and get a lot back.’
Morven MacLean, head of volunteering for CHAS, said: ‘Traditionally, volunteering has been seen as an activity for those who are not working, who have lots of free time. Times have changed and at CHAS we’re committed to ensuring that everyone can get involved, no matter how little time they have to give.
‘Douglas and Lucy are perfect examples of how volunteering can be flexible and fit with busy lives. Douglas works full time and Lucy studies at university. Volunteering isn’t an add-on to their week but the way they choose to spend time together. They’ve found a way to combine family time with making an impact on others.
‘As a children’s charity we’re delighted to support family volunteering, enabling families of all shapes and sizes to spend quality time together whilst providing vital support to other families across Scotland.’
Throughout Volunteers’ Week, CHAS will be sharing a series of short films based on the unique experiences of four individuals who came to the charity for very different reasons.
To get involved in CHAS as a volunteer, whether you’d like to become a fundraising champion, represent the charity as an ambassador in your community or pitch a new idea, further information and the full range of current opportunities can be found online at www.chas.org.uk/volunteer. Join the conversation online at #VolunteersWeekScot.
In Scotland, more than 15,000 children and young people live with life-shortening conditions and CHAS is determined to reach every family who needs its services. CHAS works across Scotland, able to provides its hospice services nation-wide for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions., CHAS offers palliative, respite and end-of-life care from Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.
The CHAS at Home service supports families with the services of a hospice yet in their own homes across the whole of Scotland. Through its Diana Children’s Nurses working in hospitals across the country they support families and clinical teams.