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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 Induction Session prior to your attendance on a 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!
A: Each break has a maximum of 6 volunteers. You will stay in a shared room with the other volunteers (of separate genders).
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.
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.
A: Your accomodation, food and activities for the week are covered by CHICKS. There may be a small cost involved when verifying your DBS documents at a Post Office (approx £7) and travel to and from an Induction Session and to our retreats for volunteers 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. In 2018 We will be able to offer you a 25% discount on coach journeys booked with National Express when travelling to and from our retreats.
A: You will receive a 'Volunteering on Break' Information Leaflet via email 4 weeks before you come on your break with us. This details what you need to bring and what to expect from your week with us. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A: i) Child safety at all times, (ii) You are not on your own, (iii) Enjoyment – theirs and yours!