Making Memories… Giving Hope

FAQs for Break Volunteers

FAQs for Break Volunteers

Click below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. If your question hasn't been answered here, you can email the team: coordinators@chicks.org.uk or call 01822 811020.  Please also note that there will be the opportunity to ask detailed questions about the role during the Volunteer Briefing at the start of your break.

What is my role on break as a volunteer?

How can I help on break?

How many other volunteers will there be?

Who is in charge on the break?

What are the children like on break?

Are there any costs?

What do I need to bring?

Can I bring my mobile phone?

Will I have breaks?

What if a child tells me something of concern/worrying?

How will I know if I am doing a good job?

What are the most important things to remember about being a volunteer?

 

Q: What is my role on break as a volunteer?

A: The respite break volunteer is expected to be a positive adult role model who will interact with the children and allow them to develop and experience new challenges. You will join our team of fully trained staff (Respite Break Leaders) and up to five other volunteers from Monday through to Friday on a residential week supporting up to 16 disadvantaged children. The Leaders are fully trained and experienced in dealing with any challenging situations so please do not to try to deal with any issues by yourself. Your role is to be a fun, yet responsible person, to be a listening ear for the children, to play games with them (never in a 1:1 capacity), to help to reinforce positive behaviour by encouraging the children and taking an interest in what they are doing (without being too invasive.) 

There will be an opportunity to ask more detailed questions about rapport-building and activities during the Volunteer Briefing and Induction session at the start of your break on the Monday morning.

Q: How can I help on break?

A: Be positive, encouraging, share duties around the house, respect everyone, be proactive and genuine. Ensure the children are safe by complying with the instructions given to you by the Respite Break Leaders; but do not try to resolve any major incidents by yourself. Most of all, use your common sense and try to enjoy yourself!

Q: How many other volunteers will there be?

A: Each break has a maximum of 6 volunteers. You will stay in a shared room with the other volunteers (of separate genders), or you may be in our on-site caravan.

Q: Who is in charge on the break?

A: There will be three Respite Break Leaders on your break who are CHICKS employees. They are all responsible for you and the children on the break. One of them is a Senior Respite Break Leader who has overall responsibility. Please listen to their instructions and do ask them for support if needed.

Q: What are the children like on break?

A: Children come to CHICKS from all walks of life and many are vulnerable and can display certain emotions of upset, anger, shyness, anxiety, worry etc. All CHICKS children have been thoroughly assessed for their suitability on a CHICKS break. The best thing to remember as a volunteer is not to try to work out why the child was referred for a break, but instead to treat them the way you would any other child. Do not inquire, but listen if they talk to you. Many of the above emotions disappear during the week as the benefits of the break set in. You may well form a bond with the children and most likely will never forget their names.

Q: Are there any costs?

A: CHICKS breaks are completely free of charge to both children and volunteers. All food, activities and treats are paid for. Travel to and from our retreats for volunteers and children is not covered by CHICKS. You will be advised before the break of our collection and drop off points and be asked to arrange this as early as possible.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: You will receive a kit list as part of an information document attached in your booking confirmation email. The main thing to pack is suitable clothing that you are comfortable in and happy to wear all day in all sorts of weather. Please also pack a swimming costume / trunks (no bikinis), waterproofs and practical shoes/ trainers.

Q: Can I bring my mobile phone?

A: Yes, but you are not permitted to have your phone visible in front of the children for safeguarding reasons. There will be opportunities for you to have a break in your rooms or to move away from the group to use this, however please keep this to a minimum where possible.

Q: Will I have breaks?

A: The Leaders will inform you when it is a suitable time for you to a have break, so please do be understanding that there are certain times of the day where a break from the group is not possible. Do take advantage of the breaks offered to you and rest so that when you are back with the children they can have your full attention, enthusiasm and energy.

Q: What if a child tells me something of concern/worrying?

A: If a child discloses any personal, sensitive or worrying information, please do listen to them and let them tell you as much as they want to. Do not try to ask any more questions or urge them to give you more information. When it is a convenient time, please do share what you have heard with a CHICKS Leader who may ask you to write down what the child disclosed. Do not feel you need to leave this information for the end of the day, but equally, be mindful of when it is appropriate to speak to a Leader.

Q: How will I know if I am doing a good job?

A: Each evening after the children have gone to bed, the Leaders will gather you and the other volunteers around for a de-brief. This is your opportunity to feedback anything from the day about the break, children, staff, activities. This will be an opportunity to ask for feedback and the Leaders will support you through any challenges that you may be having.

Q: What are the most important things to remember about being a volunteer?

A: i) Child safety at all times, (ii) You are not on your own, (iii) Enjoyment – theirs and yours!