TIME OUT: Red Cross Playscheme volunteer, Coralie Thompson with young patient, Jaidal, in the CHHC children's ward.
TIME OUT: Red Cross Playscheme volunteer, Coralie Thompson with young patient, Jaidal, in the CHHC children's ward. Trevor Veale

Child's play at Coffs Harbour Hospital

IF YOU'VE ever had a child in hospital, you understand how quickly your world is turned upside down.

Part of the "family" in the children's ward playroom at Coffs Harbour Health Campus are the volunteers with Red Cross Playscheme.

Giving support to sick children and their families, these friendly volunteers can be bedside to read a book or in the playroom to play a game.

"We give mums, dads or carers a bit of time out to have a meal, a rest or shower and know that someone is with their little one," Jill Watters, co-ordinator of the Coffs Harbour Red Cross Playscheme group, said.

"We're not nursing staff, not medical at all. We're mostly retired ladies, mostly grandmothers, and we're there to give support."

With patience, life experience and the ability to offer a listening ear, these volunteers are valued by the families who have been touched by their kindness.

"Sometimes it's about the mums and dads, sometimes they just need someone to talk with, especially if they are from out of the area.

"From babies up to 16- year-olds. We can read, play games or just keep them company. A lot of the older kids have those game machines but still like to have a bit of a talk.

"Families from other countries can be wary of us at first, especially those who have been through so much, but once they realise why we're there they are so happy to have someone to talk to.

"We do whatever is needed."

Cost to volunteer is $6 Red Cross membership. Police/working with children checks paid by Red Cross.

It's a flexible roster, Monday-Friday, 9.30am- 11.30am. Volunteers work two days per month. Details Jill 0410 956 787.