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East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices launch £1.8m emergency appeal

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices has launched an emergency £1.8m appeal after a “devastating drop in income”.

east anglia's children's hospices logo. (32870210)
east anglia's children's hospices logo. (32870210)

The Milton-based hospice supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families across the region.

Each week its charity shops generate £100,000 while fundraising events and donations add £50,000.

But due to the coronavirus outbreak, the shops are now closed, events cancelled and donations in jeopardy. Its weekly income stands at zero.

Tracy Rennie, acting chief executive, said: “We are experiencing a devastating drop in income from donations and the vast majority of our supporters’ fundraising activities, and our own events, have had to be cancelled or postponed.

“What we are all facing is unprecedented. We know this is a very challenging and uncertain time for everyone, and for Each the financial impact is overwhelming.

“Financial forecasts based on what we know and the rapidly changing situation are extremely concerning, and are likely to get worse.”

The hospice has been forced to suspend all of its planned activities including short breaks, wellbeing therapies, face-to-face counselling and its help at home volunteering service.

It is focusing on continuing to provide end-of-life care and bereavement support and limiting
the impact already being felt
by its families.

Sienna Alessandrino-Odebode, 11, has quadriplegic dystonic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and cognitive visual impairment. She is unable to sit, stand or talk, is tube fed and needs round-the-clock care.

Sienna and her family use services through Each at Milton, which her mum Natalie said has “finally allowed us time to catch our breath”. But she does not know when they will next be able to attend.

Natalie, 32, told the Cambridge Independent: “We have been with Each at Milton for almost three years now. After nine years of going it alone, Each’s support finally allowed us time to catch our breath. The support we all received from them is just fantastic.

“Memory-making, family days and overnight stays massively changed our lives – just knowing that when we are struggling there is somewhere to go.

“Each allows us to enjoy time as a family without concerning ourselves deal with.

“Without Each I wouldn’t be able to function the way that I do now. We wouldn’t get any time to rest and recoup. Life can get on top of me and emotions take over but with Each I know there will always be people behind us, picking us up when things seem hopeless. The staff at Milton have a way of making things better, and lightening the load.

“Sienna’s twin sister Noelani receives amazing support to help her emotionally and also to help her school to ensure she is supported properly. This has really changed her outlook and boosted her confidence no end.

“Sienna is 100 per cent the cheeky, naughty twin. She’s loud and bubbly but also can be quite reserved. Noelani is the caring, loving sister, looking out for her.

“Noelani loves it at Each. She asks for time with Sienna without adults, which is otherwise really hard but they try and do that. She just wants to have fun with her sister which they try their hardest to do.”

“Sienna loves visiting Each, it’s a fun place for her to go where everyone is confident and caring.

“All the staff at Each are incredible, caring and understanding – it’s nice just to offload jargon and it be taken in and understood.

“It’s a different type of care they provide. When you go to doctors and nurses they do their job but with Each they’re part of your family.”

Ms Rennie added: “We are not alone. Nearly every children’s hospice in the UK is in the same position. Unlike hospitals, we all rely on the generosity of our donors to fund our services. We receive a tiny amount from the NHS.

“However, our care service must continue. At the moment, our focus is on providing end-of-life care and bereavement support, and working closely with the NHS to provide capacity to care for the sickest children, and responding to urgent requests for care and support as best we can. But we also need to be able to start offering our services to all of the other families as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We need the help of the public to make that happen.”

The government said it was “absolutely committed to keeping hospices open”.

Natalie added: “Spare a thought for the families that are really struggling at this time without support. If you can, please share any of your remaining funds or time to help raise money and awareness.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are absolutely committed to keeping hospices open during this time and are working closely with the NHS, Together for Short Lives and Hospice UK on an appropriate national response.”

To donate to the appeal visit justgiving.com/campaign/each-covid19.

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