“Jenny and Noah’s Ark have been like a godsend when we really needed the help”
For Chon, her Noah’s Ark volunteer, Jenny, has become a central part of their lives: “We don’t have close relatives nearby so Jenny is now part of the family. The children love her. They make sure to say good night to Jenny as well as all their toys!”
When Jenny first came round to visit Chon and her two sons, James, 3, and Liam, 2, there was nervousness and anxiety all round. Although Jenny’s mum is a teacher and she’d done a placement at Demelza Children’s Hospice as part of her nursing degree, stepping into a family’s home was a whole new experience: “I was nervous and excited. I just wanted to make sure that I got things right. But within 10 minutes of stepping foot inside the door, the boys were just playing with me and I knew everything would be OK”.
James has leukaemia and so he doesn’t attend nursery because of the risk of infection. That’s why having someone to come round for a couple of hours a week to play is so important for the boys and such a brilliant opportunity for their mum to have a couple of hours break. As Chon says: “I completely trust Jenny with the boys. Having that time allows me to do some housework and just have a bit of a rest… although I often want to spend the time having a chat with Jenny!”.
Jenny’s now been with the family for a year and one of the challenges she faced initially was that the boys weren’t brilliant at playing together. But gradually Jenny’s encouraged and nurtured the sibling relationship; when the sun’s shining, Jenny takes the boys out looking for monsters! Chon says: “James being in and out of hospital made the relationship really tricky to manage and they were fighting a lot. But since Jenny’s come along, they’ve started to love playing together. When they hear Jenny coming, the boys run to the door, they’re so excited to see her!”. Jenny’s very keen to stress that this is their two hours and she’s led by the boys and what they want to do.
With James still having so many appointments, that continued support is so important for Chon and her family, both through Jenny’s visits and their regular trips to The Ark, where James has made friends at the regular Stay and Play sessions that they attend. “I can’t take the boys to normal soft play or other activities but they love seeing Jenny and coming to The Ark. I also know that The Ark is a safe place for James. Noah’s Ark has become a huge part of our lives”.
Since lockdown, the boys have been asking where Jenny is and have relied on speaking to her through Skype. James and Liam have enjoyed showing Jenny their new toys, even remotely. As Chon says: “We hope it’s over soon, so that we can see Jenny again and visit The Ark!”