I’ve worked in the charity sector for over 25 years – including senior roles at two children’s charities, NSPCC and Barnardo’s, as well as Chief Strategy Officer at Carers Trust (formerly Crossroads Care Association) which supports carers, parent carers and young carers. I’ve also been involved in the housing sector - I’m a Non-Executive Director of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, the first mutual housing association in the UK and I have been the Head of Independent Living at the Yarlington Housing Group.
Hospice care: seeing the whole person
When a family member was recently ill, I became acutely aware of the huge difference hospice care can make to families at the most difficult of times. When someone is ill, there can be so many interventions, needles, tests, case notes, results you can lose the person at the heart of it all. Hospices support the whole person and the wider family too. In our case that meant so much to us – and still does.
Living every moment to the full
When the role came up at Forget Me Not, I was really excited to apply. And it seems to me that even more so than at an adult hospice, a children’s hospice is all about helping families to live life to the full, helping people to be a family, even at the most difficult of times and recognising and celebrating the unique contribution that every family member makes, even for a very short length of time. In fact very little of our work is in reality end of life care.
It's more about laughter and fun, about having the time, space and support to express how you feel, whatever you feel, and get the care you need to find a way through.
And we support children with a huge range of conditions – something else that people may not realise about us.
Telling the story
That’s why I believe we need to tell an engaging story about what it is our hospices do and the ways that children and families benefit from our care – the respite for parents so they feel more able to cope with the demands of caring for a child with a complex or chronic health condition, the music therapy for brothers and sisters to help them deal with difficult emotions, the rainbow baby group for mums and dads expecting a baby following the previous loss of a child, to name but a few.
This is what the team does here, every day, both in our hospices and out in the community.
Because I want people to recognise not just how much that means to the families we support, how much it enables them to live a full life but also how much that means to the wider community – the children that don’t miss out on school because they’re needed to help care for their sibling, the parents who don’t collapse from exhaustion and end up in an over-stretched A&E department. And the hundreds of volunteers that support us, making new friends, having some purpose in retirement, gaining qualifications and work skills and contributing to their local community.
My job is to constantly remind people that there are children and families who need our help, lots more than you might imagine and with our shops and fundraising teams, to find generous supporters who make our work possible. With so little government money available, it’s vital that the local community get behind our work and become part of the circle of support that we wrap our families up in.