Volunteers needed to support new parents

Eight-year Families Forward volunteer, Leonne Seymour, is farewelled by her colleagues.

“BEING a parent is the hardest job in the world and I was just so happy I could help families who needed it.”

Those are the words of Leonne Seymour, who volunteered with the Families Forward program at Central Gippsland Health for the last eight years.

In that time, she supported about 15 families in the program and developed some special connections along the way.

“There are a lot of new parents that don’t have their extended family nearby to support them, which is really hard,” Ms Seymour said.

“Families Forward gives them the support they need and as a volunteer, you get that back in spades.”

Families Forward volunteers support families with young children who request additional support and assistance through their Maternal and Child Health nurse. The volunteer may assist in the family’s home with simple chores, they may drive the family to appointments, babysit older children while mum bonds with baby or take the family on outings to the park, library or café.

“I don’t have any grandkids of my own yet and I used to laugh and say ‘I’m borrowing everyone else’s!'” Ms Seymour said.

“Often, parents just need to talk to someone who can give them tips, tricks and time. As a volunteer, it’s a privilege to help a family to thrive and provide companionship and support.”

After eight years as a volunteer, Ms Seymour is retiring from the program to pursue other interests, but it’s a role she says she will miss.

“You can commit as little as two hours a week to a family and I encourage anyone who is flexible, non-judgemental, caring and compassionate to register as a volunteer with Families Forward,” Ms Seymour said.

“The more volunteers we have, the more the load can be shared and the more local families we can support.”

People interested in volunteering for Families Forward are encouraged to attend an information session where they can meet current volunteers and members of the Maternal and Child Health team.

The session will be held next Tuesday (February 6) at the Maternal and Child Health rooms, Sale Hospital from 2.30pm. Refreshments will be provided.

If you would like more information about Families Forward and to RSVP, reach Jill Palmer via email at jill.palmer@cghs.com.au or call 5143 8697.