"Families are the thing that motivates me the most"

MEET ARROWE PARK HOUSE MANAGER KATY


My alarm goes off at...

Our usual alarm is set for 6:30 am. I get up before my daughter Phoebe, get washed and dressed and then wake her up at 7 am. We have breakfast together and head out the door for 7:40 am. I am very lucky that I live on the same road as the Arrowe Park House, so it’s just a short walk to drop Phoebe off at her childminders and then I can head to work. I arrive into work for 7:55 am and make a quick coffee ready to start the day at 8:00 am.

How I got my job...

My history with the Charity goes back nearly 10 years! Just shortly after the Arrowe Park House opened, I was at a friend’s house when her mum told me about Ronald McDonald House Charities UK and the service they provided.

I was 20 years old and studying full time and had some spare time on my hands, so I got in touch straight away and signed up as a volunteer. I volunteered for the next two years, even running a half-marathon to raise funds and helped out around the House on a weekly basis.

In 2011, I signed up for Camp America and found myself a job at a fantastic camp in Massachusetts. I spent the next four years travelling to and from America working as the Director of Outdoor Education. I gained so much from this job and it made me who I am today. On my return to the UK, I would always stop by the House to catch up with staff and to help out where I could.

In 2014 my youngest sister Anna was unwell and after some tests, we found out she was 31 weeks pregnant. She had had no prenatal care and her baby was very vulnerable.

On 18 December 2014, my sister was rushed for an emergency caesarean and my niece Grace was born six weeks early. She was 4lb 5oz and was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. With Christmas around the corner, it was a very scary and emotional time for us as a family, but luckily Anna was given a room at the Arrowe Park House so she could be near Grace whilst she grew stronger.

It was strange for me to be in the House in the capacity of a family in need. I was so used to being in the office, but now the House was our safe place. I’ll always remember making bacon and cranberry sandwiches in the kitchen on Christmas morning for our family, and Kath kept feeding us chocolates and mince pies. The House gave us our family Christmas, it might not have been the three-course meal we were used to at Mum's House, but we were together!

Fast forward a year, I was working for another local charity supporting adults with mental health issues find work and volunteer placements. I happened to stumble across the advert for the House Manager position at the Arrowe Park House and couldn’t get my application in quicker. I suppose the rest is history!

My typical day starts...

First thing I do is check over the condition of the House. Being a smaller House, this doesn’t take too long, but I like to check all of our communal rooms, fire exits and machines. I usually come across a few families having breakfast whilst I’m doing this so it’s great to catch up with them as I go. A huge part of my job is ensuring that our House is a safe place for the families, so once all these checks are done I can return to the office and load my computer to start the day.

The best part of my job is...

I love my job and find that the families are the thing that motivates me the most.

We only have seven bedrooms so we get to know our families very well, especially the long-stay ones. In every situation we have the House, I take something from it. When people take their babies home we celebrate with them and when families lose a baby, we grieve with them. I take comfort in knowing that we helped, even if it was the smallest thing like making a cuppa… we still helped. I take enormous pride in knowing that we made a difference to someone.

My most memorable day/moment was...

We host a support group on a Wednesday called Neomates and on one particular day a past family had returned for the first time and it was quite emotional for mum. We were chatting over a cup of tea and she told me that the one thing she always remembers and loves about her stay was a note I left for her. She had received a parcel so I wrote a note to let her know it was in the office, I addressed the note to her, her husband and their daughter. It was the first time someone had addressed them as a family of three even though her little girl was three months old and still fighting. She told me she still has the note in her memory box. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that mean the most.

Why Ronald McDonald Houses are important...

The Charity makes a huge difference to people's lives every day, not just for the families staying, but for the children being treated. For a child to know that their parents are so close by has such a positive impact on them and their recovery.

We're celebrating the Faces of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK

For our 30th anniversary, we're looking back at the families, fundraisers and staff that make our Charity what it is. Join us by reading the stories.

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