“I’m quite proud of what I do” – Ruth Bailey on volunteering for Together Trust’s Sleep Service
Ruth Bailey has been a paediatric nurse for 23 years, but when she found herself with more free time, she didn’t book a holiday. Instead, last November, she decided to start volunteering with the Together Trust.
She said: “I decided I wanted to give something back to the community, and when I went on the website, I saw there was a role I thought would be interesting.”
Together Trust Sleep Service
The Together Trust’s Sleep Service team helps families across Cheshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Rochdale, and Trafford, where children find it difficult to sleep – particularly those diagnosed with autism or ADHD. Ruth volunteers with them, helping print out art, images, and charts designed to make the bedroom a restful space for children who struggle to sleep.
“It’s basically like a bedtime routine, a plan for what they need to get to sleep. It will be like 'have a snack, wind down with a game, have a wash, toilet'… Just doing different activities.”
The service offers one-to-one sleep clinics and online advice for local parents and carers. The sleep practitioners work with parents to create a personalised sleep plan for their child so everyone can get a good night’s sleep.
Each child’s routine is tailored to them by a therapist, using characters and themes they’re passionate about. Once the therapist has designed a sleep plan that works for the child, it is up to Ruth to print it all out, get it laminated, and make sure it is ready to be used.
“One child might be into Doctor Who, so the theme of the resources would all be related to that, or it could be Harry Potter… Everyone is different, and it’s always themed towards the child."
When asked if she has a favourite design she’s worked on, she said: “I can’t choose a particular favourite! But I do like pink, so the princessy ones are always fun to do.”
Ruth’s work is very valuable to the sleep service, as it allows other members of the team to spend more time helping more children to have a peaceful bedtime.
Her manager, Gina Howard, highlighted how important volunteers like Ruth are: “It’s an extra pair of hands, but it also frees us up to be doing other things. It means we can offer a better service. It means we can offer more.”
Ruth said: “It is quite a simple role… But if I didn’t undertake it, there would be a massive burden on the team because it is quite time-consuming. They’ve got other priorities to sort out.”
It might take time, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable for Ruth. Her team is friendly and quick to train her and build her confidence.
“I’m with a very friendly, welcoming team. From day one, they’ve just made me feel involved.”
But beyond that, Ruth is motivated by the feeling of giving back to her community and the children within it.
The Sleep Service has already helped hundreds of children, and with help from volunteers, its effects can be felt by entire families.
Gina Howard said: “It’s not just the child who doesn’t sleep, it affects the whole household. When it’s night after night, and they’re not getting any sleep. That’s when our practitioner comes in… We get hundreds of parents that are like, ‘Oh thank God, I’ve had a full night’s sleep! Thank you so much!'
Outside of the Sleep Service, Ruth also volunteers at Together Trust fundraisers. Over Christmas, she took part in the Toy Donation extravaganza. She said:
“It was such a good atmosphere. People from all over who were giving their time, and even some businesses came in. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to help out on the fundraising team.”
Ruth was quick to recommend volunteering to anyone who wanted to give back, highlighting how supportive the staff at Together Trust have been.
“It’s not a hard process to go through, and everyone is so eager to have you but they’re also really flexible.”