Working in the Marketing Team at Demelza I hear a lot about what’s going on across the organisation. I hear wonderful stories about the children from our care corridor, I hear inspirational fundraising challenges from our dedicated supporters and I hear snippets of the ambitious work we’re doing in each team. What I don’t often get to see is first hand experiences of the families we work with benefiting from Demelza’s support and hearing the impact of this support directly from the horse’s mouth. And that’s why I felt so lucky to be a part of the Sibling Residential Trip last month.
I arrived at Kingswood (an activity education centre) on the last day of the three day trip at 8.30am, which was due to be check out time from the bedrooms. What I was greeted with was an outdoor pillow fight. Bags all packed and clearly on a high from the past two days, the 13 siblings clearly didn’t want to waste a single minute where they could be care-free and playing outside whilst waiting for their next activity to start. You could clearly see the friendships that had been formed between everyone, and there was a feeling of comfort amongst the group; those who wanted to be boisterous with others had the space to do so, but those who wanted to observe from the sidelines were under no pressure to do any differently.
Throughout the day the children undertook ladder climbs, trampolining, and orienteering, as well as football and stuck in the mud (what a blast from the past of my own childhood!). What shone through the most was the level of support each child gave one another. They came into their own throughout these activities, knowing when to challenge one another and when to provide a helping hand. Whilst supporting one another, they were also cheered on by our Family Support Team, who always seem to provide the exact balance of encouragement and independence for each individual; a hands on example of their skilled expertise. At a pivotal time in the children’s lives, when they’re transitioning from primary to secondary school, this trip had helped grow their confidence.
When it neared the end of the final day, the mood in many children shifted slightly; the familiar feeling of a wonderful time coming to an end. I found that I felt the same. You could see the joy these children had experienced over the past few days; being surrounded by others who understood the difficulties of having a sibling with a serious or terminal condition, and being able to leave all responsibility at home for a few days. I could see how much this trip had meant to everyone; not only the children, but the staff and volunteers too, who could see first hand where all their hard work and dedication, and generous donations from our supporters, ends up.
After many hugs, waves and goodbyes, we all said farewell to one another and to Kingswood, and I echo the children’s question of ‘when can we do this again please?’