Children’s hospice week takes place from May 22 until 28, Charlotte Harding heads to Chestnut Tree House to find out more.
Children’s hospice week is the UK’s only awareness and fundraising week for these extraordinary places.
It looks to help charities supporting children with life-shortening conditions, their families and the palliative care services that support them.
The aim is to improve the public’s understanding of what life is really like for families caring for seriously-ill children.
“It’s really important for us to spread the word about the specialist care services we offer, both at the hospice and in families’ own homes,” explains Linda Perry, director of children’s services at Chestnut Tree House.
“We receive very little central government funding – less than seven per cent of our annual £3.5 million care costs – so rely heavily on the support and generosity of our local community to raise the funds we need to reach out to more people and continue providing this vital care to local children and their families.”
Chestnut Tree House provides a specialist palliative care service to 300 children and young people aged from babies to 19 years old with life-shortening conditions in East and West Sussex as well as South East Hampshire.
The charity also offers bereavement support, a specialist neonatal care service, services for under fives and transition advice for young people moving to adult services.
Families often find it difficult to spend quality time together as it can be complicated to do even the simplest activities. It also highlights how precious family time is and how the wide range of children’s palliative care services across the UK provide vital support to thousands of families and help them treasure their time together.
“Children’s palliative care charities across the UK provide vital care and support, helping families be families,” explains Linda.
“Since Chestnut Tree House opened in 2003 the number of children we care for has increased from 30 to more than 300, and during this time the children we are caring for have become more complex.”
At Chestnut Tree House its aim to help families enjoy the small things that the rest of us may take for granted such as walking together in the garden, snuggling up on the sofa to watch TV or swimming together as a family in the hydrotherapy pool.
People in the local community have a variety of reasons for supporting and fundraising for Chestnut Tree including parents and family members who have benefitted from the hospice’s care to those that recognise the value of the work it does and want to help.
Martha Nicholas from Brighton, celebrated her 17th birthday just two weeks before taking part in the Brighton half marathon in February, making her the youngest person to run for Chestnut Tree House.
She has done some volunteering at the hospice, which motivated her to run for the charity. Martha and her friend, Emily Townsend, raised over £1,600, exceeding their original £1,000 target.
“It was easy to decide which charity we wanted to run for as I’ve seen first-hand the incredible work that is done at Chestnut Tree House when I helped wrap up Christmas presents for the siblings of children who have life-limiting illnesses,” reveals Martha.
“It made me realise how many local families are supported by the charity, and I knew that every last bit of money I raised would directly impact the community there.”
Children’s hospices provide a vital service for families going through the toughest of times, so next time you are looking to give to charity it maybe worth seeing which ones you have near you.
To find out more about the work of Chestnut Tree House and how to get involved with
Children’s Hospice Week, visit www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk or call the fundraising team on 01903 871820.
This first featured in the May edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.