Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers provide emotional and practical support to families that have a child suffering from a life threatening or terminal illness. They provide access to healthcare, education, therapy, welfare support and benefits for these families at the most traumatic time of their lives together with emotional support for the whole family.
Dec 27, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Family Support Worker

A day in the life of Rainbow Trust’s Family Support Workers…

5am Ruth from our Kendal Team leaves home to collect mum and child to drive them to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for the child’s weekly chemotherapy treatment.  Mum doesn’t drive and without Ruth in her Rainbow Trust Kangoo it would mean an overnight stay in hospital following the nightmare of public transport.

7am Louise from our Southampton Team prepares to provide one-on-one support to siblings, who are coming to terms with the terminal illness of their brother, by taking them on a day trip, offering them vital time to talk to a trusted adult who understands some of what they are going through.  Louise has provided regular support to the family, since their son was diagnosed 18 months ago, and is a familiar face that the children look forward to seeing. 

9am Catherine from our County Durham Team supports a tearful mum as she buys her child’s first school uniform even though she does not know whether her child will live long enough to wear it.  The mum had been planning this shopping trip before her child became ill and thought that it would seem as though she had ‘given up’ on her child if she didn’t prepare for that all-important first day at school. Having the reassurance and support from Rainbow Trust helped her to understand that these feelings are ‘normal’ and that other families have faced the same dilemmas she has.

11am James from our Manchester Team accompanies a family to a consultation about the remaining options for the treatment of their child’s cancer.  Hospitals can be very frightening places and parents find that it helps to have their family support worker with them during appointments.  Not only because we have heard it before, but we are also able to understand the medical language and can spend valuable time after the appointment ensuring that the family are able to fully consider the options open to them.

1pm Clare from our Swindon Team provides emotional and practical support for a family at the funeral of their child.  As well as being with the family on the day of the funeral, Clare will remain in contact with the family offering on-going bereavement support for as long as the family need it.  This support can vary from family to family and may range from having a cup of tea with a mother who wants to remember the silly things that her child did and be able to laugh and cry at the same time with someone who knew her child, to individual work with brothers and sisters helping them put together a memory box to remember their brother or sister and the time that they spent together.

3pm Diane from our Surrey Team visits a sick child in Great Ormond Street Hospital, the child’s mum has to go home to her three other children, desperately trying to keep the family together through their ordeal.  Diane is a welcome face bringing valuable distraction for the child during their six weeks of unpleasant treatments.  Spending time with a child in hospital  gives mum a much needed break and time to focus on her other children as well as being a ‘new’ visitor for the sick child – someone who is there ‘just for fun!’

5pm Time for tea! Matthew from our Essex Team supervises tea with the siblings of a sick child, keeping them entertained whilst mum and dad spend precious time together with the sick child who is bed bound.  Sometimes it is the little practical tasks that make all the difference to a family coping with the unthinkable – someone to make the tea and clear up afterwards just gives families that vital breathing space.

7pm Caroline from our Surrey Team visits a new family to assess what support Rainbow Trust can offer them.  They have been referred by Great Ormond Street Hospital as their child has a very rare genetic condition that has been difficult to identify and treat.  Mum, a single parent, has had to give up work and with four other children is simply not coping.  Caroline will appoint a Family Support Worker to this family who will work with them – sick child, siblings and Mum – to enable them to deal better with their circumstances.

Dec 11, 2012

Day in the Life of a Rainbow Family Support Worker

A day in the life of Rainbow Trust’s Family Support Workers…

5am Ruth from our Kendal Team leaves home to collect mum and child to drive them to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for the child’s weekly chemotherapy treatment.  Mum doesn’t drive and without Ruth in her Rainbow Trust Kangoo it would mean an overnight stay in hospital following the nightmare of public transport.

7am Louise from our Southampton Team prepares to provide one-on-one support to siblings, who are coming to terms with the terminal illness of their brother, by taking them on a day trip, offering them vital time to talk to a trusted adult who understands some of what they are going through.  Louise has provided regular support to the family, since their son was diagnosed 18 months ago, and is a familiar face that the children look forward to seeing. 

9am Catherine from our County Durham Team supports a tearful mum as she buys her child’s first school uniform even though she does not know whether her child will live long enough to wear it.  The mum had been planning this shopping trip before her child became ill and thought that it would seem as though she had ‘given up’ on her child if she didn’t prepare for that all-important first day at school. Having the reassurance and support from Rainbow Trust helped her to understand that these feelings are ‘normal’ and that other families have faced the same dilemmas she has.

11am James from our Manchester Team accompanies a family to a consultation about the remaining options for the treatment of their child’s cancer.  Hospitals can be very frightening places and parents find that it helps to have their family support worker with them during appointments.  Not only because we have heard it before, but we are also able to understand the medical language and can spend valuable time after the appointment ensuring that the family are able to fully consider the options open to them.

1pm Clare from our Swindon Team provides emotional and practical support for a family at the funeral of their child.  As well as being with the family on the day of the funeral, Clare will remain in contact with the family offering on-going bereavement support for as long as the family need it.  This support can vary from family to family and may range from having a cup of tea with a mother who wants to remember the silly things that her child did and be able to laugh and cry at the same time with someone who knew her child, to individual work with brothers and sisters helping them put together a memory box to remember their brother or sister and the time that they spent together.

3pm Diane from our Surrey Team visits a sick child in Great Ormond Street Hospital, the child’s mum has to go home to her three other children, desperately trying to keep the family together through their ordeal.  Diane is a welcome face bringing valuable distraction for the child during their six weeks of unpleasant treatments.  Spending time with a child in hospital  gives mum a much needed break and time to focus on her other children as well as being a ‘new’ visitor for the sick child – someone who is there ‘just for fun!’

5pm Time for tea! Matthew from our Essex Team supervises tea with the siblings of a sick child, keeping them entertained whilst mum and dad spend precious time together with the sick child who is bed bound.  Sometimes it is the little practical tasks that make all the difference to a family coping with the unthinkable – someone to make the tea and clear up afterwards just gives families that vital breathing space.

7pm Caroline from our Surrey Team visits a new family to assess what support Rainbow Trust can offer them.  They have been referred by Great Ormond Street Hospital as their child has a very rare genetic condition that has been difficult to identify and treat.  Mum, a single parent, has had to give up work and with four other children is simply not coping.  Caroline will appoint a Family Support Worker to this family who will work with them – sick child, siblings and Mum – to enable them to deal better with their circumstances.

Sep 21, 2012

Nicole's Story

Nicole Aghar was just eight weeks old when her mum Lyndsey noticed her daughter's eyelids flickering oddly. Nicole was Lyndsey's first child, and like any first time-mother, Lyndsey was worried she was being overly anxious. Not wanting to ignore her motherly instinct, she took Nicole to her local GP who referred Nicole immediately to the hospital on Christmas Eve 2007. A month later, the family were given the devastating news that the flickering eyes Lyndsey had witnessed were the symptoms of a brain tumour. There was more bad news. The location of the visual palsy glioma tumour meant that it was too dangerous to operate on and that the tumour had destroyed Nicole's sight. Nicole was blind. Doctors were unable to operate without causing further damage and prescribed 18 months of aggressive chemotherapy. Lyndsey was told about Rainbow Trust by a social worker when Nicole was first diagnosed at three months old. Lyndsey was adamant that she didn't need the help of outside services and refused the support of a Family Support Worker, worrying that it reflected badly on her capabilities as a mum. The day after she was christened in February 2008, Nicole's chemotherapy treatment began. For Lyndsey, Nicole's treatment and hospital stays proved an upsetting and lonely period. Nicole's father, Andrew, had used up annual leave for Nicole's previous hospital appointments, scans and early treatment and was told he'd have to take unpaid leave for any further absences from work. Unable to live without Andrew's salary, Lyndsey spent weeks by Nicole's bedside alone, staying overnight whenever her daughter needed to stay in and watching her hooked up to machines, giving her treatment and medication, blood and platelet transfusions that made her desperately ill. Lyndsey found it difficult to keep five month old Nicole occupied, and her blindness meant that Nicole didn't know when it was day or night and so proved a fitful sleeper. Neither Lyndsey nor Andrew could drive, and so they were both reliant on their parents for transport to and from weekly hospital appointments. Andrew would spend time with Lyndsey and Nicole on days off at weekends, but mostly Lyndsey was alone with Nicole. Despite her painful chemotherapy treatments, which made her bones ache, Nicole was a happy child, always laughing and very responsive to her mum and close family. When Nicole was 18 months old, the support of Rainbow Trust was again suggested to Lyndsey who realised how the charity could support her and Andrew and gratefully met with Family Support Worker Vicky from Rainbow's County Durham based team. Looking back Lyndsey muses: "We'd have been lost without Vicky, I understand that now. I was worried that people would think I didn't care about my daughter if I let someone else sit with her in hospital, but I realise now that I needed support to continue to support my daughter." Vicky's impact on the family was immeasurable. Lyndsey no longer had to rely on her parents or in-laws to for transport to the hospital, and instead Vicky offered professional, reliable transport assistance in her special Rainbow car, and the chance to chat through Lyndsey's worries during the journeys. Lyndsey now had another daughter, Brooke, to look after, meaning that her time was split between her two children, one in hospital, one at home. If Nicole had a long stay in hospital, Vicky would visit, allowing Lyndsey to go and eat in the hospital canteen, collect clothes or toiletries from home or see her baby daughter. During chemotherapy treatment, when Nicole felt well enough, Vicky would take Nicole and younger sister Brooke out to the park or on day trips to the Farm or soft play centres. Lyndsey soon began to rely on Lindsay's weekly visits, and remembers: "I now know I couldn't have gone on coping with all the stress without Vicky's help. I think I would have broken down without Rainbow's support. I used to get really defensive about Nicole, not wanting anyone's help other than my close family. Nicole's illness has been such a strain on all us. It took me a while to trust Vicky but she has never let me down and is wonderful with Nicole and Brooke. I really don't know what I would have done without her help." Unfortunately for Nicole, her recovery has not been without setbacks. She has relapsed twice since the initial diagnosis and has endured two more courses of chemotherapy before her current course. Complications have arisen due to the length and strength of the chemotherapy treatments and Lyndsey and Andrew have been warned that Nicole's bone marrow is weak and tiring and her hearing has been affected. Nicole is now on a different course of treatment for a year which she has so far had far less side affects from. At her last scan, witnessing a shrunken tumour, Nicole's doctor told Lyndsey that "We are winning, it's just going to take a matter of time" which has left Lyndsey and Andrew feeling a lot more positive about Nicole's future. Nicole starts school in September, and Lyndsey is looking forward to enjoying Nicole making friends and reaching further milestones. With Vicky's help she can remain strong for her family and fight for Nicole's good health. "People always ask me, how do you do it, how do you cope with everything that has happened with Nicole. I tell them, the day it breaks Nicole, is the day it'll break me. She is such a happy joyous child, how can I give up when she has so much to live for? Rainbow's support means I can cope as best as I possibly can for my family and for Nicole." Thank You to all our supporters, without your donations we wouldn't be able to help families like Nicole's.

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