Helpers go the extra mile for Helen & Douglas House

Finley Middleton, five, and his sister Lucie, three, with their mum Michaela, back left, and Vicky Walter, a home volunteer with Helen and Douglas House hospice

Finley Middleton, five, and his sister Lucie, three, with their mum Michaela, back left, and Vicky Walter, a home volunteer with Helen and Douglas House hospice

First published in Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

MICHAELA Middleton rarely gets a moment to herself.

She works as a medical telephone operator for the 111 helpline, and spends the rest of her time caring for son Finley, who has a rare genetic condition.

Five-year-old Finley has a condition called GINS1 and immune deficiency, meaning he cannot grow and is constantly susceptible to infection.

Mrs Middleton’s life is made easier by home visits from volunteers at East Oxford children’s hospice Helen and Douglas House.

And now the married mother-of-two, from Upper Arncott, near Bicester, is encouraging others to help provide this vital service.

The Home Volunteering Service, set up in 2011, offers families, who often provide round-the-clock care for their child, practical support with everything from gardening to shopping and ironing.

Vicky Walter, 30, has been supporting Finley, Michaela and husband Justin for two hours a week since April 2013.

The Oxford Brookes finance manager said: “I hope my visit just makes life that little bit easier for them. The Middletons have so much going on that my visit hopefully means I can take care of a few of the simple things like hoovering, taking bins out, folding the laundry, defrosting the fridge and sorting out a cupboard.”

The Marston resident said: “I really enjoy home volunteering.

“I feel like it’s two hours really well spent and I know it makes a big difference to the Middletons.

“I also like that it’s practical support, and at the end of my visit I can see the contribution I’ve made.”

Mrs Middleton, 45, said: “Vicky is like part of the family. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the kids and day-to-day things.

“She’ll do anything that we need doing, even if it’s just having a coffee and a chat.

“Or she’ll do more practical things like tidying and ironing.

“I am so tired at the end of the day looking after my son all day.

“When Vicky comes I can go and have a soak in the bath instead of a four-minute shower.”

The East Oxford hospice’s volunteer manager Wendy Bridge said: “Volunteers are carefully matched to families to relieve pressure, to give them space to do things they couldn’t easily otherwise, and spend quality time together as a family.

“They give their time and energy to help families dealing with the most difficult of circumstances.”

To mark Volunteers’ Week, which runs until Saturday, Helen and Douglas House is calling for more volunteers. Travel expenses are paid. Call 01865 794749 or email volunteering@ helenanddouglas.org.uk

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