Norland has been working with Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association) charity since March 2014. Together we have set up the Helping Hands Appeal, providing qualified Norland Nannies, on a voluntary basis, to families with multiples, who are deemed, by Tamba, to be in crisis.
One of our Norland Nannies, Christina, volunteered over 300 hours of her time in 2015 to help these families. Here she tells us about her experiences and encourages other Norland Nannies to offer their voluntary support to these families.
How many families have you helped?
In total I have supported eight different families since I started to volunteer with Tamba in March 2015. Three of these were telephone support and for the rest I have provided support in the family home. Each family I have supported has been unique, with different challenges and individual needs. Specific issues I have supported families and children with have included potty training, post-natal depression, post-partum psychosis, building routines, emotional support, Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome as well as just providing an extra pair of hands (particularly for a family with quads). The variety of these positions is one of the reasons I have enjoyed volunteering with Tamba so much.
How much time did you spend with each family?
The unique nature of each family’s needs means that there is always something to get involved with regardless of your availability. I have worked with families over extended periods of several months, going back every few weeks to provide intensive support. Other families I have visited once for only a day or two and even provided support over the phone when I haven’t been able to physically get to a family. The great thing is that I have been able to fit it in around other commitments whilst still being able to help these families. Now I just call Tamba and say when I'm free and they let me know if they have someone that needs some support.
What were your feelings when going to your first family?
I was extremely nervous. I didn't start volunteering with Tamba until March 2015, after reading Ishbel's blog . I didn't volunteer earlier because I thought I didn't have enough multiple experience to be of any help (I had previously only worked with one set of twins). Initially my lack of experience and lack of confidence held me back, but I very quickly realised that multiples experience isn’t essential, because, to these families any knowledge and support is hugely beneficial. You don't need to be a multiples expert or a sleep-training guru to make a difference and really help these families. Despite my raging nerves, I was full of determination and had an overriding sense of purpose, I wanted to support this family who were in a desperate situation, so I threw myself in at the deep end and I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have ever done!
Is there anything you have faced that you couldn't cope with?
Honestly, no, there hasn’t been anything; Norland provided me with so many adaptable skills and knowledge and a 'can do’ attitude! Having said this, there have been plenty of situations where I have been challenged. Having four 12 week old babies, all crying at once can be very daunting! In another placement I found myself caring for children where they lacked some of the most basic of resources. At such times you have to think on your feet, but you always do what you can and for every family and I have found that sometimes even the smallest task, such as washing some dishes or calming a crying baby, has made a world of difference.
Did Tamba support you?
Yes, Helen and Stacey at Tamba are always at the end of the phone to provide support and a listening ear - they are both so lovely and exceptionally friendly. They make sure volunteering fits in with your life and try to match families and nannies based on needs and experience. They are also able to offer additional advice and guidance, and there is a huge team at Tamba with a wealth of multiples expertise and connections.
What did you gain from the experience?
Wow! So much! Volunteering with Tamba has expanded my experience and opened a whole new world to me. It has shown me how challenging life can be for some families with multiples. I have gained specialist experience with twins with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, families with Postnatal Depression and Post-partum Psychosis, as well as experience with quadruplets.
Would you recommend it?
I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is an amazing experience which mutually benefits both families and Nannies, but also changes lives. These families are beyond grateful for the support they receive from the Nannies who visit them and it is exceptionally rewarding to be part of their journeys.
What advice would you give to any other Norland Nannies considering volunteering?
If you’re even vaguely interested - do it! Just give Tamba a call and have a chat, the Tamba training day (advertised on the Norland courses web page ) is also a great way of exploring the options more whilst continuing your professional development. It doesn't matter how much or how little experience you have, or whether you have a week free or only a day. It all helps. What we may view as a small and insignificant act, in my experience has often had a huge impact for these children and their families. I have loved every moment, even the challenging ones.
More information about Tamba's Helping Hands Apeal can be found here.