In praise of SeeSaw's volunteers
I’m so proud at today’s announcement that SeeSaw has won The King’s Award for Voluntary Service. It’s an achievement that makes me reflect on the special role of volunteers at SeeSaw right from its beginning in 1999.
When we were setting up the child bereavement service for Oxfordshire, we were only the second service in the UK. The first was Winston’s Wish in Gloucestershire, and we learnt a great deal from their pioneering work. But we wanted to try some different ways of supporting bereaved children and their families, and to do this across Oxfordshire within our very limited financial resources.
We decided that it would be possible to have a small team of expert professionals as the core of our service, and they would recruit, train and supervise a team of volunteers to provide much of the face-to-face work with children of all ages in their own homes.
At the time, this idea was greeted with some scepticism. Could volunteers really provide the quality input the children needed? But we pressed ahead and recruited our first Volunteer Support Workers in 2000.
This was the start of SeeSaw’s journey to the incredible achievement of receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service this year. Our VSWs have brought fantastic skills and dedication to their work with SeeSaw’s children. Some have given more than 10 years to this task, finding different ways to help children and young people, and firmly establishing SeeSaw’s reputation with families and professionals around the county.
Of course, SeeSaw has had hundreds of other wonderful volunteers too, helping us with fundraising, spreading the word about SeeSaw to local groups, providing activities and resources for grieving children of all ages to overcome their sense of isolation, or contributing their time and expertise as trustees to the strategic management of SeeSaw.
I have been so proud and privileged to have been the Chair of SeeSaw and seen everyone involved show such commitment to helping grieving children cope with their great loss.