AN independent charity set up by an NHS worker to help young burns victims and their families has been awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service 2022 (QAVS) for its work.

Family Burn’s Club was founded by Yorkshire Businesswoman member, Tracy Foster BEM, a play specialist who works on the regional children’s burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.

Tracy says: "This is great news and a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in our club. We announced the QAV on 2 June when we will also celebrated the opening of our new office in Pontefract."

The charity, Yorkshire Businesswoman's charity of the year, is the only independent one in Yorkshire that was established to help children, young adults and their families face the challenges of suffering a burn injury and rehabilitate in a fun, supportive atmosphere. Tracy says this results in an overall improvement in care and treatment experience.

Tracy set up the club in response to the needs of burn-injured children who lacked appropriate psychological support throughout the extensive journey to recovery."Childhood burns are painful, traumatic, devastating and often life changing for the child and their family. The cosmetic stigma of a burn can greatly affects a child’s confidence. Part of the social reintegration involves successfully returning to everyday events, a process which requires a multi-agency approach in collaboration with the child and family," she explains.

Following a traumatic burn injury, recovery may include several painful dressing changes, physiotherapy, regular massage, possible reconstructive surgery and having to wear a pressure garment for up to 2 years. For many families with young children and young adults they can face many problems, they have to adapt to their scars, disfigurement and re-integrate into social and family life, learning how to live in a society which discriminates against people who look different.

The Family Burns club assists children their families and young adults up to the age of 25 face challenges in the recovery from burn injury. This will be by supporting the physical, social and psychological needs of young burn survivors and families through a variety of events and family activities aimed at:

Providing appropriately challenging physical activities to:

  • Allow young adults parents and siblings build confidence
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Develop new skills
  • Help young adults feel good about their bodies
  • Provide day trips and activities/ events
  • in the local area which allows young adults, Children, Families/ parents and siblings to face the public with the support of each other.
  • Help young adults develop social skills through teamwork challenges and shared communal environments, which can then be transferred to other environments such as home and work.
  • assisting the child, family, young adult with scars in the process of social, peer and family re-integration
  • providing a safe environment to explore personal feelings and anxieties
  • Return back to normal activities
  • Sharing experiences with similarly injured young adults and families
  • Encourage young adults, children, families and parents to share their experiences of injury and rehabilitation through small group activities.
  • Enable young adults to benefit from positive role models and become positive role models themselves.
  • Provide an environment which promotes caring for others.
  • Provide children, family/parent support, sibling support
  • Be an integral part of the transition pathway when young adults move to adult services.
  • Involve having lots of fun!

"Through regular “Burns Camps”, where the charity and its members visit residential outdoor activity centres, we provide children, their families and young adults with opportunities that they may not otherwise be given. This includes a variety of activities such as, but not limited to, caving, climbing, canoeing, high rope challenges and orienteering.

"Our dedicated Burn’s Camp volunteers provide a secure environment where the young people and their families can be themselves, away from some of the pressures which come from being ‘different’. The camps and day events allow the children, families and young adults to interact with others with similar injuries thus removing the cosmetic stigma, giving them the opportunity to socialise and rebuild their confidence without concern as well as supporting each other with the daily difficulties posed by their injuries," says Tracy.

The club and all camps are funded totally from donations and fund-raising efforts by the volunteers, raising a total of around £30,000 annually. `This money is raised through volunteers going beyond the call of duty.The club is run by a variety of volunteers, including some NHS workers, fire fighters and general public. The award, especially in the Queen's Jubilee Year, is for them as much as me and our members,' says Tracy, who runs the charity in her own time.

The charity started at Pinderfields Burns Unit. The club grew so that the charity could support not only children up to 18 but the childrens parents and young adults. It became an independent charity in January 2020. "It was a long hard journey but the support for all is now amazing,"' says proud Tracy.

Parents and other family members are invited to participate in appropriate club events and encouraged to support the club in fund raising events. The charity now supports around 210 members. It provides an opportunity for young people who have had major burn injuries, whether still receiving treatment or not, to meet with others who have had similar experiences and join in with activities and events.