The help being given to families looking after children with life-limiting conditions is being celebrated this Children’s Hospice Week (June 22 to 28) across the UK.
The national week-long celebration of the vital work of the country’s 54 children’s hospices will this year focus on the special help being given to families struggling to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Families from across the North West, supported by Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, have felt the effects of lockdown, with social isolation taking its toll. Many families reporting being left exhausted after months of providing 24/7 care for their child at home with no respite.
Derian House has offered its families a lifeline – finding new ways to connect and also taking pressure off the NHS.
The charity has created a “virtual hospice” with music sessions, wellbeing and support groups all going online. Families have been keeping in touch on a brand new Derian Playtime Facebook page where they share stories and arts and crafts ideas, and the siblings group has even set up its own virtual comedy club to tell jokes.
As lockdown has eased, the hospice is gradually opening up, with families now able to visit for picnics in the park and family splash sessions in the hydrotherapy pool, offering a chance to have fun while staying safe.
Naomi Moazzeny’s four-year-old daughter Riziah is a regular at Derian House playgroup sessions where she loves making new friends.
She said: “Derian House staff have been incredible during lockdown. The new playtime Facebook group has been great, always providing us with fantastic craft ideas, stories and baking. The text messages they sent help us to know they are there at the other end of the phone if we need to chat.
“Last weekend we were able to visit the Smile Park playground at the hospice. For the kids this was just incredible as they have not been to a park for three months and for us as parents just watching their little faces be filled with so much joy and laughter in a clean and safe environment was so reassuring!
“We’ve also been to the hydrotherapy pool where they had so much fun. For Riziah, being in the warm pool and us not having to worry about her getting too cold and affecting her health, was wonderful. It allowed her to just be a usual four-year-old girl with no cares in the world. That means the world to us.”
Coronavirus has meant Derian House has faced unprecedented challenges. The charity relies on its generous supporters for 93 per cent of the £4.8million it takes to run services every year. With fundraising events forced to cancel and its three charity shops closed for three months, income has dropped and support is needed now more than ever.
Led by UK charity Together for Short Lives, as well as celebrating the amazing work of the nation’s children’s hospices, this week will be used to call on members of the public to do something amazing and help to raise money to allow charities to continue to offer care to children now and into the future.
“Coronavirus has changed all of our lives, and families caring for a seriously ill child feel more alone than ever,” said Andy Fletcher, CEO for Together for Short Lives.
“Lockdown has been so tough for the children and their families and many will carry on shielding long after social distancing ends. They desperately need the support of their local children’s hospice more than ever. That’s why Children’s Hospice Week is so important this year – it is vital that we pull together to protect the lifeline care that children’s hospices provide for vulnerable families today, tomorrow and long into the future”.
To support Derian House Children’s Hospice visit www.derianhouse.co.uk or text DERIAN 5 to 70085 to donate £5.