At Demelza, we offer support for the family, as well as the child – supporting parents, carers, siblings and grandparents. As part of our family support services, we offer family events, from our magical Christmas grotto to the annual Snowdrop bereavement event, to name a few that you may be familiar with. This is where Paige comes in. As Demelza’s Family Events Coordinator, Paige plays an essential role in organising and facilitating these events for families. She has kindly shared an insight into what her busy role entails:
Speaking about her experience prior to joining Demelza eight months ago, Paige shares: “Before Demelza, I worked as an Events Coordinator for a healthcare events company. We would put on conferences and summits for NHS healthcare professionals – and that would be all across the country, so I would be travelling around to places like Manchester, Birmingham, London and Brighton.
“The conferences, sometimes more than 100 per year, were set around topics like oncology, diabetes, mental health – and my role was very much organising those conferences and bringing them to life. That involved; sourcing and booking the venues, prepping the speakers and of course on-site management during the events too.
“I was in that role for about five years after finishing university. Then when COVID-19 happened and everything went virtual, I gained quite a lot of virtual experience under my belt. We did webinars and virtual conferences – we did that for about a year and a half. And, although it was a really good experience, for me, I missed getting out there and meeting people.”
Joining #TeamDemelza’s Family Support Department
Paige continues: “I have always wanted to work in the charity sector and when I saw Family Events Coordinator [at Demelza] I just thought, you know, I have so many skills that I can bring to that role and it sounded so rewarding and I just knew that this was the role that I wanted to do. So, I applied and went through the interview process – and here we are, eight months later!”
Paige shared how her time at Loughborough University influenced her passion for events and helping others: “I studied Social Psychology at university because I’ve always been interested in people and social behaviours. I went to Loughborough University and I got stuck into events in my free time within the university.
“I became involved particularly in the welfare and diversity events, so that entailed putting on events for underrepresented students and the wider community. We had groups like a women’s network, an LGBTQ+ association, an ethnic minorities network – lots of different groups like that. We catered for those students who might need additional support in certain areas and I got involved in that purely out of personal interest. I’m a social person, I just wanted to work with people and make that experience better for people whom I felt I could help. And I loved that element of making something happen and turning it into an event – seeing a need and facilitating it in some way, whether that be training or a safe space – and that’s how I got into events.
“I always had the plan to work with people – putting on events to help people. In my previous job, it was to organise events to train NHS staff and that opportunity came up when I was first out of university, I just thought that this is my first step towards helping people. And when I saw Family Events Coordinator at Demelza, I thought, this is really more hands-on and helping people.”
A day in the life of Paige
Asking Paige about what her role at Demelza entails, she shares: “I’m still learning at eight months in! So, as the Family Events Coordinator, my role involves helping to organise and deliver events for Demelza families. Myself and Emma [Family Events Lead] work really closely with other departments to create events, and those safe spaces for the families, to ensure the families feel like they are part of a community – and where they feel their wellbeing is increased – we are always trying to hit those objectives in particular.
“We work on events from the initial conversations, where we’ll identify an event need, working closely with our Engagement Lead to ascertain what types of events children and families would like us to organise. We try to think of events where families can make memories together and feel supported by Demelza and how we can facilitate that. So, we’ll have those initial conversations and then we look at the planning. We’ll carry out the pre-event work, whether that is booking out spaces, liaising with the families or speaking with teams across the organisation. Then on the day, we’re of course there to oversee – sometimes we will have a more active role and other times we’ll be more overseeing and managing the volunteers. After the events, we collect feedback and sometimes we’ll have information to send out to the families too.
Paige continues: “It’s very varied – we work on quite a lot of different events. We sometimes work on smaller events within Family Support, for example, sibling trips to Gravity [trampoline park], or organising event boxes for virtual events such as sensory stories that often involve staff members from Family Liaison and Therapies. The boxes may include items that might look or feel a certain way that will relate to the story being told and will be away for children to interact with the story.
“It might be that one week you’re working on three different events, all at the same time. A lot of it is working on an event checklist – sending out communications, keeping an eye on sign-ups, replying to messages on the Families Facebook Group and having meetings with other teams and departments. We carry out online events, an example being a recent virtual magic show and Christmas and New Year’s virtual parties. We are now also holding more in-person events and we are well underway planning various Summer events - so there’s always something going on! It’s nonstop – but it’s amazing because you get to work with so many people.”
Learning at Work
Speaking about the training opportunities she has had since joining Demelza, Paige shares:
“I have attended various training courses to help me carry out my role safely and competently. These include up to Level 3 Safeguarding; keeping the welfare of children, young people and adults who we are supporting at the forefront of our minds is imperative within the Family Support Department and in Demelza as a whole organisation.
"Refreshing my First Aid knowledge has hugely increased my confidence being an on-site first aider at events if required and enhanced my health and safety awareness, generally.
“I have been able to attend external training courses, which have included a course with Child Bereavement UK, and that was to explore how to best support and work with families following the death of a child.
“I am also doing the training to become a Wellbeing Champion at Demelza, so I have now completed two days of Mental Health First Aid training. So that’s something I am really proud to be a part of – the Wellbeing Champions are there to support staff and volunteers, but the knowledge gained so far is also just so useful for everyday situations, learning how you can help others in stressful situations, how to have those conversations and signpost where necessary. The Mental Health First Aid course was amazing, I learnt so much on it and I am very much looking forward to future training for the Wellbeing Champion role.”
We finished up our chat with Paige by asking, what is her favourite part of being Demelza’s Family Events Coordinator! Here’s what she had to say: “As I have said, I’m very sociable so I’ve loved working with Demelza families – I think when they see your name and face consistently, and get to know you, it builds trust and positive relationships. It’s 100% my favourite part of my role – meeting people and having conversations at the events.
"I would say the other rewarding part of the role is when you read through feedback which demonstrates the positive impact the events can have for families. From the Christmas grotto, for example, when you read on the feedback form, ‘[this event] has been just what we needed to get us in the Christmas spirit whilst feeling safe. So lovely to do something Christmassy and without Demelza, we wouldn’t have done much’ and ‘Thank you for making us all smile’.
"Those kinds of comments indicating the impact, it really makes all of the busy days, evenings and weekends all worth it. We always ask for event feedback, good and bad, and suggestions for improvement and it’s nice to be a part of evolving events for families. It’s busy – but it’s really great to be a part of.
“Where we are able to facilitate these happy memories for families, is just brilliant. And I think that I joined Demelza at such a good time because COVID-19 restrictions were loosening so we could begin to do more and offer more to families again.”