Find out more about our Bliss affiliate group based in Bridgend, Wales
Group coordinators: Rhian, Lisa and Tanya
Why did you start volunteering with Bliss?
Rhian: I started the support group as Lisa and I felt that we could offer families much-needed support after being discharged from the neonatal unit. We were hugely aware of how daunting it can be to take a premature or sick baby home from a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). We spoke with families and after lots of discussion we started a monthly group for two hours. We really wanted to offer continued support, particularly to families with no support network, as well as young families. Myself, Lisa and our other group coordinator, Tanya, are extremely proud of how the group has grown over the years.
Lisa: Being discharged home can feel daunting without the safety net of nurses that you get on the unit and we wanted to allow parents to feel welcome at our group whilst having the opportunity to meet others in similar situations and also to have the support of staff.
What do you enjoy most about your volunteering role?
R: Lisa, Tanya and I enjoy offering the ongoing support to families. It’s wonderful to see the babies grow and develop. It’s also great to see the friendships that have been made within the group between families. We are also lucky that we have a Facebook page too, this enables families to offer support to each other without having to attend the group.
L: Seeing the babies grow and develop! It’s so lovely to see their little personalities coming through.
Do you have a volunteering highlight?
R: On World Prematurity Day we received lots of posts on our Facebook page. From families with photographs of the babies in SCBU and then the present day in purple. The Christmas party was very popular and it’s wonderful to see all the families having a good time.
L: Yes, it was lovely to see how many families came to our first Christmas party. We had no idea if anyone would come but in the end we were full to bursting! It was amazing to see the children’s reactions to meeting Santa!
Get to know Rhian and Lisa outside of their roles...
What music are you listening to at the moment?
R: Ed Sheeran
L: Mumford and Sons
What is your favourite film?
R & L: Love Actually!
What is your favourite book?
R: The end of the affair by Graham Greene
L: The time traveller’s wife by Audrey Niffenegger
What three things would you take with you to a desert island?
R: My family, a satellite phone and… a boat! Haha
L: My trainers (I love to run), photos of my family and a toothbrush!
What is a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
R: I was a premature baby myself! I was born at 29 weeks weighing 2.7oz and spent 3 months in SCBU.
L: Mark Owen from Take That once used my pen. I’ve loved Take That ever since and have seen them nearly 20 times in concert!
Do you run a family group for your local neonatal unit? If you'd like to affiliate your group with Bliss, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.