A new volunteer programme to support families of premature babies has been launched.
The group of new volunteers will become part of the ‘PURE’ initiative, which stands for ‘Parents Understanding Real Experiences.’ All volunteers are parents who have spent time on the Neonatal Unit with their own babies; so are able to provide unique support to other families.
The PURE volunteers will play an integral role in staff and parent education, by participating in group sessions held on the Neonatal Unit, as well as offering one-on-one support to families.
The scheme is supported by Leeds Cares, the official charity partner of Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Leeds Cares has provided funding to train the 20 new volunteers in readiness for their new role.
A donation to the charity from the Gray family, whose son was cared for on the neonatal unit 20 years ago, also funded new branded polo shirts for the volunteers.
One of the new volunteers, Sophie, said “It’s been a very rewarding experience, knowing that we’re able to be there for parents, having experienced similar journeys ourselves. From my own experience on the unit it was the words and kindness of others during very difficult times which I still think of today.”
Dawn Clements, Family Care Sister on the Neonatal Units told us, “Having a baby on the neonatal unit can be a stressful time for parents. PURE volunteers have a unique perspective and will give new parents someone to talk to who understands the journey they may face.”
The launch coincided with the annual World Prematurity Day celebrations at both St James’ and Leeds General Infirmary. Each year the Neonatal Units host a tea party to celebrate and acknowledge the bravery of babies and their families. The event featured hand and feet printing, superhero dress-up, a charity raffle in aid of Leeds Cares and of course, cake!
World Prematurity Day is a global movement which raises awareness of premature birth and the sometimes devastating impact it can have on families.