This week I was delighted to attend the launch of The Sick Children’s Trust, Big Chocolate Tea Party, on behalf of Grazia. Whilst here I met some amazing people from the industry and had the opportunity to network. This though is not the story I want to tell you here, I don’t want to go on about the afternoon tea and the champagne (though I will mention it a little) what I want to draw your attention to is the charity itself.
The Sick Children’s Trust is a small and relatively unknown charity. Last year though they managed to raise £47,000 and have a target of £100,000 this year. When you put this figure into comparison of what the large charities (MacMillan, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research) make (multi-millions a year) it is a feeble sum that should be relatively easy to achieve. However, it is not that simple, In this day and age if you’re a charity it is hard to find people willing to sponsor or speak up.
At the press launch I had the opportunity to speak to a few of the spokespeople and a Mother that has been aided by the charity. Ed Keeble is the first season winner of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and has been working hand in hand with the charity for a year now. He also provided some amazing Choux Buns for our afternoon tea at The Grosvenor House.
When speaking to Ed he said ‘I didn’t know about the charity until I visited one of their houses near my own home. That’s when I realised how much these ‘home away from homes’ are needed.’
A ‘Home from Home’ is a building by the hospital that houses a variety of parents/families of children who are in serious condition within the hospital. There are direct lines to the hospital ward so parents no longer have to panic about missing a call or not receiving an update. The room is yours though and family members say it is so soothing to have a place where you can wash your face, have a change of clothes and have pictures and personal items surrounding you. As one mother said ‘the hospital is not yours, you can’t have your own things in their’.
Until going to the press release and hearing more about the charity I didn’t realise how much the charity does for families with sick children. Many can’t afford to travel hundreds of miles a day to visit their ailing children (and who’s surprised, it really isn’t even a possibility) and nor can they support themselves if they’re forced to give up work. One family helped by the charity described the ‘home away from home’ as the reason their family hasn’t fallen apart.
Sian Lloyd (TV personality) is the spokesperson for the charity and after talking to her she explained to me the importance of £28. £28 is all it costs to keep a family at one of these homes for a night. £100,000 will keep the home going for a year.
Victoria, a mum whose daughter is currently in hospital with a critical condition, said that the home is the only thing that has kept her going. It allows her to have her own space. Victoria’s daughter is at London Hospital and she lives in Worchester. Victoria has to be at her daughter, Antonia’s, side whenever she calls and this would not be possible without the charities home, opposite the hospital. Victoria also explained that Government benefits stop when your child goes into hospital, and if it’s a permanent case or a critical condition, as a parent you have to be there 24/7 so working becomes an impossibility. There is no government support and Sick Children’s Trust allows families to live.
Victoria also explained how it means she has a chance to cry, or laugh, to cook a meal and have the extended family come to stay with her while she is away from home. When asked about her thoughts on the charity she replied ‘I couldn’t have go through this without them’.