Medical and nursing professionals needed to make disabled children’s dream holiday to Florida a reality

Medical and nursing professionals are being targeted by a children’s charity, in the hope that it can attract the required number of volunteers needed to deliver a magical, dream holiday to Florida, for a group of 25 disabled children in December 2014.

Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children, and their families, says it urgently requires 32 inspirational volunteers in order to make its Destination Dreams respite holiday, for children with life-threatening illnesses, a reality this year.

And bosses at the charity are challenging those who work within the medical and nursing professions to swap their white coats, and thermometers, in favour of the distinctive purple uniform worn by Caudwell Children’s trusted group of volunteers, known affectionately as the ‘Purple People’.

Medical and nursing professionals needed to make disabled children’s dream holiday to Florida a reality
The charity is urging NHS management to get behind their appeal. They say that by encouraging staff to volunteer, businesses can partially fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives.

It’s hoped that the temptation to escape the pressures of the surgery, operating theatre, or ward, for seven memorable days, will see professionals volunteering their service’s in increasing numbers.

Trudi Beswick, Chief Executive of Caudwell Children, believes that those who come forward will have a life changing experience. She said: “This is, arguably, the best volunteer opportunity ever. Rollercoasters, unlimited ice cream, whale watching, it’s all part of the job when you have to make the dreams of 25 disabled children come true. Volunteers will have to be able to cope with the heady excitement of several of Florida’s world-famous theme parks, and they will have to be prepared to have fun from dawn until dusk! What could be better?

“Those who have volunteered on Destination Dreams in the past tell us that it’s an incredibly powerful experience and have described it as magical, uplifting, humbling, empowering and extremely rewarding.”

Hayley White, a Children and Young People's Occupational Therapy Technical Instructor within the NHS, volunteered on the 2013 Destination Dreams programme. The 27-year-old, who lives in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, believes that her working environment helped her to adapt to volunteering. She said: “I work with children with a wide range of disabilities, on a daily basis, and as a result I was comfortable with being around medical equipment, wheelchairs and the like. I also have an understanding of some of the problems families face and I knew the kind of things that they would be worried about, on the trip.”

Hayley claims that Destination Dreams helped her to see things from a family perspective, and to understand that the ‘little’ things really do make such a difference.

She also believes that the holiday has had a profound effect on her career. As she explained: “It’s made me think much more about the family, as a whole, as well as the child. It has made me see that sometimes families want to just be a family, from time to time, and forget about the medical and therapy side of the child's illness or disability. It has made me realise that communication with families is vital in maintaining positive relationships between them and medical staff, even if it’s through a quick up-date on a simple courtesy call.”

With 104 children losing their lives each week, and over 2,200 children spending more than 6 months of their short lives in hospital, it’s easy to see why the charity chose to give children, fighting life-threatening illnesses, the opportunity of a once in a lifetime holiday overseas.

Trudi was keen to stress the urgency in the request for volunteers. As she explained: “We need to hear from people now. Applications close on Friday 4th April and it’s vital that we have a full complement of ‘Purple People’, as without them the trip won’t be able to take place.”

And Hayley was adamant of the value of the trip to both families and volunteers: “I always struggle to describe the impact Destination Dreams has had on my life, as it’s difficult to put it into words. The whole experience was truly magical and I burst with pride knowing I was a part of it. I had the time of my life and yet parents were thanking me for my help! No matter what your background, or experience, everybody has something to give. Just go and experience the magic first hand.”

Volunteers need to have a full, valid, passport and be available to travel from 30th November-9th December 2014. Volunteers will spend nine nights away from home.

Crucial to their selection will be the ability to raise £1,200 towards the cost of the trip.

For further information and an application pack please contact the Caudwell Children Volunteers Department on 01782 600443 or email

Applications close on Friday 4th April 2014.