THE children’s charity Make-A-Wish® UK has opened its referral process to members of the general public for a limited time, after a leading children’s doctor has stated that wishes are important ‘now more than ever’ for children whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.
With 63,000 UK children critically ill right now, the charity is urging the public to ‘play a vital role’ in ‘lighting up the darkness’ for children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions by referring them for a wish.
Since 2017, only health or social care professionals have been able to refer a child to Make-A-Wish UK; a children’s charity which exists to ‘makes wishes come true’ for critically ill children. From May 16th to June 15th 2022 this has been extended to all, with members of the general public now urged to refer eligible children aged 3-17 for a wish.
Jason Suckley, Chief Executive of Make-A-Wish UK, said:
“We know that over 60,000 children in the UK are living with a critical condition. We believe that all those children deserve the opportunity to have their wish come true, and hope that our decision to make the referral process accessible to all will help reach as many of those children as possible.”
The decision comes after Dr Larissa Kerecuk, Rare Disease Lead at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, praised the ‘very beneficial effect’ of a wish for children struggling with their mental health.
“For children, the pandemic has not had a detrimental effect on physical health, but it has had a huge negative impact on their mental health. Wishes can have a very beneficial effect on mental health as it gives the child and their family psychological resources to be able to deal with difficult times. Now more than ever, wishes can have an even bigger impact after two years of living with COVID-19.”
Dr Kerecuk has referred more than 80 children to the charity, including 5-year-old Bella-Rose Taylor who lives with a rare degenerative condition caused by a mutation in the TRAPP gene. Her wish, to ‘feel the wind on her face’ with a family visit to Alton Towers, will be granted by Make-A-Wish UK next month.
Dr Kerecuk said:
“The psychological impact of just telling a child that I would like to refer them for a wish is always so wonderful. A wish provides a rare instance in which the burden of childhood illness has positive consequences. Children are given the chance to choose a unique experience for themselves when so much else has been decided for them. Wishes have a truly magical effect.”
Anyone who knows of a critically ill child, and would like to refer them for a wish, is invited to do so by visiting www.make-a-wish.org.uk/wishes/
Jason Suckley said:
“When a child is diagnosed with a critical condition, the joy of childhood is brought to an abrupt end with treatment plans, hospital appointments and worry taking over. The power of a wish brings light and joy to children and their loved ones, and we’re pleased to now invite members of the public to play a vital role in that process.
“Additionally, we’re delighted to confirm that an extra-special wish experience will take place this September for eligible children with a passion for all things Disney. For more information, and to help light up the darkness for a critically ill child in your life, please visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk/wishes/