- This is a guest post by Paul Saxton of Creative Target in support of EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices).
EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices) supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. They provide care and support wherever the family wishes – in families’ own homes, in hospital or at one of their hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham.
They are a registered charity (no. 1069284) and need to raise around £4.8 million in public donations to deliver their services this year. This amounts to more than £13,000 a day, every day of the year.
We first heard about EACH (Quidenham) from a nurse at the hospital when Maggie was still in intensive care. I remember thinking then that I’d never be happy taking her there. I didn’t want her mixing with disabled kids because I didn’t want to accept the fact that she was disabled. It’s called wishful thinking.
The first time we took her there I was overwhelmed with sadness. By crossing that threshold it was almost as if we were surrendering her to disability. Everyone was very kind and understanding but I despised them all, including (and maybe especially) the kids. As far as I was concerned Maggie shouldn’t have been there.
Over time, those feelings passed. This was partly as a result of us slowly accepting Maggie’s condition but mainly as a result of realising how fantastic the people at EACH are. They have only ever had Maggie’s best interests at heart. Ours too. More than anyone else we have to deal with, they understand what our lives are like. Not just the day-to-day stuff, or things like the lack of sleep, but the pain and sadness that comes with having a disabled child.
On the surface, what EACH gives us is very simple: they give us a break. They take Maggie and allow us to have a few days and nights off. But more than that – much more than that – they make Maggie’s life richer. The people there aren’t just carers, they’re professionals who are dedicated to making disabled kids’ lives better. So Maggie gets physiotherapy, cognitive support, music therapy, play therapy and all kinds of good stuff that will enable her to have a better chance in life. She also gets love and care and undivided attention.
In this respect, EACH has been, I’m sad to say, more of a friend to us than quite a few of our real friends. A consequence of having a disabled child is that you become isolated. Not simply because of the practicalities associated with caring for a child with a disability, but because people don’t seem to want to know you. Or they just forget you. But with EACH we get help and support and understanding, both at the hospice and here at home when they come out to give us respite or to babysit. As a result of this, Maggie has grown very fond of many of the people there. So much so that these days she even looks forward to her visits.
One of the things I like about EACH is its purity. It’s a charity that looks after disabled kids and their families. Kids and families who, through no fault of their own, lead extremely difficult lives. (I should point out here that there are families who use EACH whose lives are much more difficult, and sadder, than our own: it’s not called a hospice for no reason.) Which is why it’s almost scandalous that it’s a charity, rather than an essential service. If we’re talking about the most vulnerable people in society, the most deserving even, then I’d have thought that disabled children would be the ones most in need of care and attention. I’d think that, by the way, even if I weren’t the father of a disabled child. Yet EACH has to fight it out with all the other charities out there.
Of course, the purpose of this post isn’t just to sing EACH’s praises. Its purpose is to raise a bit of money. So, because it’s Christmas, and because they’re so wonderful, I’d be very grateful if you could donate something to help them out. To help the kids out. And to do that, all you have to do is click the link below.
Thank you. And Merry Christmas.
- Paul writes a semi-regular blog about Maggie at http://maggieandalice.blogspot.com/