Youngsters cared for by Chestnut Tree children’s hospice recently enjoyed a day at Drusillas Park in Alfriston, supported by staff from the charity and volunteers.
As part of Chestnut Tree’s youth group, four children were treated to a day at the zoo, where they watched the animals, went on the rides and played in the huge play areas. They were joined by Daisy (21, from Polegate), Cara (16, from Ditchling) and Portia (17, from Brighton), young ‘buddy’ volunteers who help care staff create a fun and safe environment. “It was a fantastic day that was a huge success all round,” says Cara. “Everyone had a great time, with the buddies getting just as much involved with the slides as the children!”
The trio have all been volunteering as buddies for the past 6 months and say they get a lot out of the experience. “It's a privilege helping children have fun and enjoy themselves at the time when it's needed most,” says Cara, whilst Daisy and Portia highlight the chance to meet people. “Whilst working with individuals with life shortening conditions can be emotionally demanding, to be part of a team that give families a well-deserved break and promote a fun environment for the children and young adults is to me one of the most rewarding schemes to be involved with,” Daisy says. “My time as a buddy has given me the opportunity to meet truly wonderful and inspirational young people from whom I have learned so much.”
The Chestnut Tree care team, who have bases in Eastbourne and Arundel, have a full programme of events and trips planned for the forthcoming year, and are eager to hear from anyone else who thinks they might like to become a buddy. “It makes such a difference to the young people we care for and gives them the chance to enjoy different activities with somebody they can really relate to,” says Trisha Cullingford, Fun & Friendship Co-ordinator for Chestnut Tree. “We will be holding more youth groups and activities in the coming months so please do contact us and find out more about it. And don’t worry, we will provide you with full training, plus you are under no pressure to commit if you give it a go and feel it is not for you.”
Anybody interested in becoming a buddy can give Trisha a call on 01903 871848.