Let me start by introducing you to how the Referrals Team works:
This team typically is the first point of contact for any new enquiry. Not only do they answer questions from curious grandparents, teachers and care workers wondering how they can refer a child, but they also field queries from people whose family member might have an illness calling about where they can obtain travel insurance for a holiday they hope to take. Or can we make use of a villa a generous person owns in Florida? Or an enquiry on whether any organisation grants wishes for the over-sixties (we do know of one, by the way)…
The Referrals Team is at the start of each and every wish and they are the people who see and process applications with the greatest of care and respect. To give you some perspective on the numbers we are working on currently, so far this year we have we have received over 580 new enquiries for wishes…and it’s only May!
It’s a complex task with the need for patience, empathy and diplomacy, especially when dealing with sometimes hostile medical secretaries! We were chasing up one of our forms recently (and believe me, we can be a tenacious lot when we need to progress with an application!) and throughout the month we had called the same secretary a number of times. Eventually we had the response that the child had changed Doctors months earlier. We often wonder why we’re not told that at the first phone call….still, these frustrations are just a small part of the job.
As well as day-to-day post, filing and data entry typical of most office roles, we do have some really nice (forgive the twee word!) parts to the job. Regularly there are “oooohhhs” and “aaaawws” when we see pictures of wish children and details of why a wish is important to them. It’s always a delight to see drawings that a child has clearly spent a long time colouring in to demonstrate how they would look as a princess or swimming with dolphins. We may then read that a child is going through treatment for a year, or is sadly in declining health, in which case we will always work on a wish request with greater urgency. It’s not uncommon for us to be able to grant a wish within a few days of the referral hitting our doormat.
This is the tip of the iceberg regarding what the members of the Referrals Team do daily; they are crucial part of the Department – and also superb tea makers!