Deborah on being a Member2Member supporter
Deborah Lane has been a Member2Member supporter for the last two years. Throughout this time Deborah has helped and supported five families.
In 2014 I decided to volunteer for the Coeliac UK Member2Member programme. Three years prior, my son had been diagnosed with coeliac disease on his second birthday after being very poorly for some time.
He had a swollen tummy, was vomiting, had white stools and no energy to do anything. It was a worrying time and very upsetting to see him so frail with no desire to eat. My husband was subsequently then diagnosed and it’s fair to say that coeliac disease is a family affair with my dad and nephew also being coeliac. At the time I felt very overwhelmed and daunted at the prospect of introducing the gluten-free diet and the challenges associated with the disease. I was however lucky to have support from a great dietitian, and first hand experience of watching my mum cook a gluten-free diet for my dad, and I was therefore fortunate to get up to speed relatively quickly. I decided to volunteer for the Member2Member scheme as I was aware that not everyone may have had the same support that I did and I hoped I might be able to help other parents of children newly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
I have mentored five families over the last two years.
It involves talking to others, listening and then sharing common experiences - either over the phone or via email. I am mainly asked how I have dealt with: diagnosis at hospital – tests and process, ideas for family gluten-free meals, favourite cake recipes, prescription options/allowances, advice to increase a child’s confidence with food, tips for children’s parties and information important to share with teachers when starting school.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a Mentor and would recommend it to anyone thinking of volunteering who has a spare hour or two. Coeliac UK provides a superb handbook that I can refer to, and I can call their Member2Member Coordinator if I have any questions. I remember how hard I found it when my son was ill - as a mum it’s a most basic instinct to want your child to eat and be well.
I have found it rewarding to share experiences with others in a similar position as part of the Member2Member programme and hope that my support at such a difficult time may have helped others.