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Volunteers needed to make dream Florida holiday come true for disabled children

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Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, is looking for volunteers aged 18 and over, to make the holiday dreams of 25 disabled children come true.

The charity organises its annual Destination Dreams holiday to Disney World, in Florida, to give 25 children with life threatening illnesses the opportunity to experience a ‘Dream’ holiday overseas.

To ensure that the holiday takes place, in early December 2019, the charity needs to find a team of volunteers who can support the children and their families on their journey ‘across the pond’.

The closing date for completed applications to be received is Tuesday 31st July, 2018.

And with greater numbers of women volunteering their services each year Caudwell Children is urging more men to fill places on what they’re describing as ‘the best volunteering opportunity of the year’.

Sarah Bailey, National Volunteer Manager at Caudwell Children, believes that the holiday is life changing for both children and volunteers alike. She said: “The trip is the perfect environment in which families can enjoy quality time together experiencing, for perhaps the first time, a level of normality in their lives. However, it’s also an amazing opportunity for those who volunteer.

“Many of our volunteers say it’s been the best experience of their lives. By providing families with an extra pair of hands they give them the support that they need to be able to relax and be happy on the trip. It’s often the simple things that make the difference; such as carrying bags, pushing wheelchairs and buggies or entertaining siblings.”

Sarah says that volunteers need to be physically fit, and whilst she is keen to hear from individuals with experience of working with children, she says the charity doesn’t preclude volunteers without these skills. As she explained: “We’re looking for volunteers from all walks of life and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never volunteered before. You won’t be providing care, or meeting medical needs, as we already have a medical team to fulfil those requirements.

“Volunteers just need to have empathy and a desire to create a fun holiday that will provide lasting memories for the children and families involved.”

Volunteers need to have a full, valid, passport and be happy to spend 10 nights away from home. They will also be required to raise money toward the cost of the trip.

Shortlisted candidates must be willing to attend a selection day at the Moat House Acton Trussell Hotel, in Stafford, on Sunday 12th August 2018. They will also need to attend a residential training weekend (location and date TBC) before the holiday.

Jim Redmond, a 66-year-old motor cycle shop owner from Birmingham, volunteered on the Destination Dreams trip in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He believes that the holiday has given him a greater understanding of disability. He said: “To be honest I got involved for selfish reasons, I had too much time on my hands! I’m now semi-retired and there are only so many parks you can visit, or pubs you can pop into.

“I’d urge anyone to volunteer, you’ll get so much from it. The enjoyment is difficult to describe and the trip made me feel great. One thing’s for sure, what you get back from the families is a thousand times more than what you put in.

“It was an emotional experience, especially when one mum told me that her son had spent more time out of his wheelchair in one day than he had in the last three months.

“The camaraderie within the volunteer team is magnificent and, even at my age; I’ve formed friendships for life. That’s just how powerful the experience is.”

For further information and an application pack please email: volunteer@caudwellchildren.com