Children’s Hospice Week 2020

22 - 28 June 2020 marks Children's Hospice Week, we are putting the spotlight on our charity partner Together for Short lives. Coronavirus has changed all of our lives, but for families caring for a seriously ill child, or whose child has died, they feel more alone than ever

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Although our villages are closed right now, our teams are throwing themselves into fundraising, supporting the local community and doing their bit to help their neighbours and the country through this challenging time.

We know that the charity sector has found this time particularly difficult – fundraising events have been cancelled and charities are having to find new and innovative ways to deliver the vital support they offer to millions of people.

Stanley Murphy

Stanley suffered from a rare genetic condition called Tay Sachs. Diagnosed at just 14 months old, he very quickly developed complex symptoms including frightening seizures. Stanley’s care needs were huge – his family looked after him around-the-clock, a daunting prospect for any parents, not least for those coming to terms with a devastating diagnosis. Children with Tay Sachs are not expected to live beyond five years old.

When Stanley’s family were introduced to their local children’s hospice, Children’s Hospice South West, it gave them a lifeline. Mum Emma says: “As well as the care and support for Stanley, the sibling support team at Children’s Hospice South West were incredible. Stanley’s brother Fynn really benefitted from this service. He would go out for days out with the hospice staff, hang out with the other siblings. He was completely entertained throughout our stays. It is one of his favourite places.”

Stanley’s family would visit the hospice every three months for respite stays and towards the end of his life they would visit for emergency symptom management stays. “We would get to the point where, as a family, we were so burnt out and needed support and respite.”

Stanley died at Children’s Hospice South West when he was four and a half, in June 2019. His family stayed there for a week after Stanley died and it is a time that will remain precious to them all. Emma says ‘we slept in a bedroom close by so we were always with him. This time was so important to us as a family. It enabled other family to visit him because his death was unexpected in a way. People didn’t know that the last time they saw him would be the last time.”

Even beyond Stanley’s death, the hospice has been a crucial part of family life, helping them all to deal with their grief. Emma says “There is bereavement support and I receive a call every two to three weeks from the hospice to see how we are. There is somebody there 24/7 at the other end of the phone if I need it.” As Stanley’s mum explains, “isolation doesn’t mix well with grief. It is just one life-changing thing on top of another life-changing thing.”

Our charity partnership with Together for Short Lives

For the last four years, Center Parcs UK has been partnered with Together for Short Lives, an amazing charity who provide a lifeline for families with seriously ill children, ensuring they can access the right care and support. Sadly, this year, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Together for Short Lives expect to lose around 35 to 50% of the income they need to deliver their crucial services for families. All at a time when their support is needed more than ever – calls to their helpline have already doubled.

Coronavirus has changed all our lives, but for families caring for a seriously ill child, they feel more alone than ever. Social isolation has taken its toll and families are exhausted after months of providing 24/7 care for their child at home. Many families will carry on shielding long after social distancing ends, leaving families feeling more isolated and lost.

Our teams have been busy finding new and exciting ways to raise money for Together for Short Lives – we’ve had our Security team committing to running 25km overnight, a 2.6 Challenge with a Center Parcs twist and, to celebrate their sixth birthday, a six-themed challenge at Center Parcs Woburn Forest. From employees cycling 6km every day for six days to teams completing 66 TikTok dances in 66 different locations, they’ve gone above and beyond to continue supporting a great cause (all while sticking to the latest government guidance, of course).

Since the partnership began in 2016, we’re thrilled to have raised more than £960,000 for this fantastic cause, but our support goes far beyond fundraising. Each of our villages is partnered with a local children’s hospice where the team volunteer and, in these challenging times, the teams have been finding new ways to offer their support, such as delivering Easter goodies to the staff at the hospices. We’re currently partnered with Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in South Yorkshire, Children’s Hospice South West, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, Jigsaw Children’s Hospice in Cumbria and Keech Hospice Care in Bedfordshire.

Center Parcs continues to work hard to support Together for Short Lives and local children’s hospice services, helping them continue the amazing work they do for families across the UK.

You can find Together for Short Lives’ most up-to-date support and guidance for families with seriously ill children on their website.

Support the campaign by donating and helping Together for Short Lives and children’s hospice services like Children’s Hospice South West, across the UK, to deliver vital care for families and help them make the most of their time together, in these uncertain times. Visit www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk today for more information.

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Olivia Tomlinson

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Olivia Tomlinson

As Senior Marketing Executive at Center Parcs, I’m lucky enough to see all of the amazing pictures and hear the lovely stories that come from our guests. My family and I love having time together at Center Parcs. I'll share everything I know with you here.