“In 2015 I saw the Rio Ferdinand documentary.* I’d never heard of Jigsaw (South East) prior to that, but applied to be a volunteer as I wanted to use my personal experience of bereavement to help others and particularly children.
“My husband died suddenly when my two children were aged five and seven years old. I sought professional support which certainly helped us at the time, but I wish I had been aware of charities like Jigsaw, because I think meeting other families in a similar situation would have really helped us.
“That’s the ‘aha’ moment I witness in Jigsaw groups, when children realise that there are other children who have lost their Mummy or Daddy and suddenly they don’t feel quite so alone.”
Debbie Springford’s day job is as a Business Development Manager, but for three years she has volunteered with Jigsaw (South East), to support family groups in Merrow.
What do you get out of volunteering?
I am part of a team committed to making a difference. The progress families make in six weeks is tremendously rewarding to see.
What skills do you bring to the role?
I have facilitation skills from a previous corporate role but feel my personal qualities and experience were equally important assets to bring to the role.
What skills have you learned?
Skills around communication and facilitation have been enhanced through my
What training have you had to help you in your role?
I’ve attended a couple of courses as a volunteer: understanding grief and a Facilitation skills course organised by Child Bereavement UK.
Has being a volunteer changed you as a person?
I’m not sure it has changed me, but dealing with families going through bereavement continues to reinforce the fact that many people are touched by grief, especially young children.
What has volunteering taught you about yourself?
The fact that I am able to support families at a terribly difficult time in their lives, when I have lived through the same experience, is evidence of my personal inner strength and the personal progress I have made on my grief journey.
What’s the best part about volunteering?
Being part of a committed team and knowing I am in some small way, making a difference to bereaved families.
Are there any downsides?
I can’t see anything negative about volunteering for Jigsaw.
What advice would you give to would be volunteers?
Volunteering with Jigsaw requires commitment and empathy with the cause – if you have those, that’s a great place to start, so I would say give it a go. The team is very supportive and there to provide any help and advice you need.
We thank Debbie and all our volunteers for the invaluable work they do. If you are interested in working with us as a volunteer in fundraising, admin or with families, please contact Sarah Dodson by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*In May 2015 Rio Ferdinand lost his 34-year-old wife Rebecca to cancer. A year on, as he was trying to come to terms with this loss and its effects on him and his three children, the BBC made a film, ‘Being Mum and Dad,’ in which the work of Jigsaw (South East) bereavement charity was featured. The programme followed Rio as he met other families in a similar position and looked at what help was available for parents and children who have experienced loss.