Giving a helping hand to Cambridgeshire families who have children battling illness

PUBLISHED: 17:06 11 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:06 11 January 2018

The Ganderton family

The Ganderton family

Hannah Ganderton

A new volunteer scheme which provides help to families whose children have life-limiting conditions is now up and running.

Hannah and Michael Ganderton with daughter IonaHannah and Michael Ganderton with daughter Iona

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) has introduced Help at Home, a scheme backed by the Cambridge Independent to provide support to link families with a caring individual who can help with everyday tasks such as cooking, ironing, cleaning and gardening.

Money raised by the Cambridge Independent and other supporters will help fund the training, travel and ongoing support of approximately 45 volunteers who will help make the family’s lives a little easier.

One of the first families to use Each Help at Home are Michael and Hannah Ganderton, whose four-year-old daughter Iona has an encephalocele. The condition means a part of the brain grows outside of the head, and as a result she suffers from hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and epilepsy.

Volunteer Frances Smith has visited the Gandertons at their home in Peterborough once a week since the end of November.

“She’s been amazing,” said Hannah. “I’ve been able to get support with the jobs I find difficult to catch up on, like cooking a meal or washing up, or laundry...

“She also helps me with things like paperwork that never gets done – just because so much of my time is taken up caring for Iona and the other children [sons Reuben and Joel].”

She added: “To have her coming in on a Monday morning is something I look forward to, and just having a bit of company as well is quite nice.

“She’s even helped my eldest boy practise his piano and violin because she’s got a musical background.”

Frances, a piano teacher by profession, said: “It took a few visits to settle down into understanding what Hannah’s expectations were of me, and to get the feel of the family dynamic.

“Hannah and her husband really have their hands full so they need all the support that we can give them. They’re a lovely family.”

She added: “The training and the support from the hospice is fantastic and they really take care of their volunteers, as well as the families and the children.”

However, the scheme still needs financial support to ensure its success can continue. So far the Each Help at Home appeal stands at £69,237 from a target of £87,500. This includes the costs of a coordinator to ensure the volunteers are matched to families in the greatest of need, freeing up their time to spend with their children.

If you have a fundraising idea, please get in contact with You can also make a donation at

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