As the Regional Coordinator for the East of England, my job is to work with volunteers and cleft teams across the region, raising awareness and providing support for those affected by cleft. This opportunity was what attracted me to CLAPA, as this is my background, working on national and international programmes, in health and social care.
Working with our volunteers is one of the most rewarding parts of my job; it is wonderful to meet people who are so committed, giving up their time to help out. One such volunteer who I have been working with a lot recently is Jamie-Leigh, who has taken on the huge job of organising a family fun day in support of CLAPA. Jamie-Leigh’s little brother was born with cleft and she has been a tireless and incredible fundraiser since getting first getting involved in 2013. I haven’t needed to do much to support Jamie-Leigh as she has been an organising force of nature, and the fun day is her one-woman show. She has been amazing, pulling in all sorts of donations and stalls for the day’s raffle including some lovely framed art by Bethany Rush.
She has even managed to convince Thetford’s Mayor to join in the day’s festivities!
I only joined CLAPA in late April 2016, after a recent move from London to Norwich, and it’s volunteers like Jamie-Leigh who have made me feel incredibly welcome. I tend to travel the region quite a bit, meeting people, and attending local groups meetings. I particularly enjoy our happy face group meetings, these are groups which are set up by parents of children with cleft to allow them to meet in a safe environment, sharing stories and providing each other with support. The parents in these groups are extraordinarily giving, and for many having the opportunity to swap stories and meet people in the same situation is really important.
CLAPA is going through a lot of change at the moment, so it’s a very exciting organisation to be a part of. The Regional Coordinator programme, for example, is part of our drive to decentralise and provide more services and support on a local basis. We have a great number of volunteer roles, from being a parent or peer contact, to helping run a happy faces group or regional branch.
If you live in the East of England and want to get more involved with CLAPA or just want to talk then please e-mail me: [email protected]