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Updated 1/4/16

in Bristol Diocese

Friends for Parents

‘Friends for Parents‘ is a Bristol Diocesan project which was set up in 1987 under the guidance of the then Chaplain of Bristol Children’s Hospital, Charmian Mann. A team of 10 Friends for Parents volunteers is still working in the hospital and still supported very strongly by MU members.

The aim is to try to make things easier for families while their child is in hospital. As Bristol is a regional hospital there are families from a wide area coming for treatment, in an unfamiliar city and they may be without other members of the family or friends to support them. Even if they are local families they appreciate the support friends for Parents can give.

Each volunteer does a fortnight’s duty in the hospital 3 or 4 times a year on a rota basis. During that fortnight the volunteer visits most wards every weekday. The volunteer will listen and talk to families as any friend would do at what can be an anxious and bewildering time, perhaps being with the parents if they feel they need support when their child is having surgery or treatment or giving information on local facilities Often the families appreciate a chat about everyday things not connected with hospital.

Another big part of the work is providing a constant supply of coffee tea sugar and milk in the hospital Parents’ Rooms on each floor so families can make themselves a drink at any time – especially appreciated by those who arrive in the middle of the night in an emergency.  They also supply wards with emergency toiletries packs for parents.  

The team wears distinctive yellow polo shirts with a teddy bear logo and there are posters with their photos around the wards so they can be easily recognised by families and staff.

Mothers’ Union members ensure that Friends for Parents work is supported by donating toiletries or coffee and tea for the Parents’ Rooms or by donations raised in many ways – such as coffee mornings, asking for donations to Friends for Parents instead of birthday or anniversary presents for example.

As one parent put it on a card to the team ‘Thanks a million for all you do to make the hospital experience a bit easier to bear. Keep up the good work.’

Gill Wilding 

To view Gill's son and daughter in Bristol 10k run in aid of Friends for Parents click here

A Members of the Friends for Parents Team In Action