Monday, 27 May 2024
Monday, 27 May 2024

Local charity gives comfort to children and families in emergency visits

VERY poorly children rushed to Derby and Burton hospitals in an emergency will be helped to smile a little thanks to comfort packs donated by a local charity.

Melbourne-based me&dee is donating the packs as a gesture of support for families who arrive at the hospital with poorly youngsters in an emergency and may have nothing with them – like a cuddly toy or distracting game.

The charity also provides packs for parents to provide some comfort in what can be heart-rending situations when even something as simple as a cup of tea can offer a grain of support.

Fran Watson, a senior play specialist at Royal Derby Hospital, said:

“These packs will be really helpful because a lot of our parents and children come without anything as it’s an emergency and sometimes they get transferred out to another hospital. You come at once because your child is ill, and parents can often forget about themselves too. You get caught up in the emotional rollercoaster of what your child is coming in for.”

Children’s comfort packs provided by me&dee will include an age-appropriate activity, book, toothbrush, toothpaste and flannel. They will also include a baby Hero small lion cuddly keepsake or a baby Hope elephant. The cuddly elephants – an animal chosen because an elephant famously never forgets – contain a voice recorder in the ear so that siblings or other family members can record their voice to comfort children in hospital when they cannot be there alongside them.

Parents’ packs will hold toiletries, tissues, instant tea, coffee, milk and a soup mix, so that mums, dads or other carers can at least use a new hospital’s hot water supply to make themselves a drink. They will also have a notebook and pen to make notes when talking to staff and write down things needed for a relative to bring in.

Fran, who has known me&dee founder Maria Hanson MBE for 15 years, said:

“Maria is such a lovely person. I’ve known her ever since she started up me&dee. Over the years she has supported me to in turn support families in such a massive way. In some ways, she’s the first port of call for me. She supports me in anything that I ask her for.

“The soft toy and book in the children’s comfort packs are just the sorts of things that children will have left behind when they’re rushed in. A comfort pack might be simple, but for a parent and a child who gets one, it will just make them smile a little bit and it will make them feel that they are not on their own, and somebody’s thinking about them.

“For patients who have experienced me&dee, there aren’t enough words to explain the gratitude they have. Whatever the difficulties and the challenges you may have, Maria’s always able to make things better. She’s just a very special lady.”

Local charity gives comfort to children and families in emergency visits
Maria and Fran at Derby Hospital and Maria Hanson with Clare Brewin from me&dee.

Maria, whose charity helps provide comfort and memory-making activities for families who – due to serious illness – are facing a potentially short and certainly uncertain future together, said:

“For the children, the packs are intended to be a diversion. They’ve got something to cuddle, something to read and something to make.

“In cases where there are extremely poorly children, a child may be in a clinic at one hospital, potentially just visiting as an outpatient, but find themselves being transferred with a parent or carer at a moment’s notice to another hospital. Or they may be in a clinic and admitted to a ward in an emergency.

“The parent will have nothing with them and be totally unprepared, left with just their handbag, perhaps not even any cash with them, for 24 hours until they can remedy that.”

Maria said the packs would also be used in very tragic cases where children are moved to Rainbows Hospice where families can spend 24 hours with them after they have passed away.

In 2023 me&dee is appealing to local businesses to adopt them as their charity of the year. One comfort pack costs £25 and businesses are able to pledge support at very little cost per month while achieving benefits themselves in terms of fulfilling increasingly important corporate social responsibility.

For more information on how to support me&dee fulfil its important work comforting families going through sad times together, please visit: www.meanddee.co.uk.

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