Our impact

Our impact

Keeping families together

The Sick Children’s Trust is the charity that gives families with a seriously ill child in hospital a comfortable place to stay and a friendly ear to listen in one of our ten ‘Homes from Home’. As families navigate the additional challenges that COVID-19 has brought with it, we continue to provide them with the support they need.

Hospital can be a lonely and scary place for anyone, but especially a child. Providing families with somewhere to stay together just minutes from the hospital means that they can be by their sick child’s side and have one less thing to worry about. We support thousands of families with a seriously ill child in hospital each year by giving them a warm and comfortable place to stay when they need it most.

Download the full PDF version of our latest impact report below.

Download our impact report



The last year has been incredibly challenging for everyone but for families with a seriously ill child in hospital, the worry and strain has been far greater. Families have needed our ‘Homes from Home’ more than ever and with many hospitals only allowing one designated parent to visit their critically ill child in hospital, our House Teams have been on hand to provide much needed comfort and support.

A close working relationship with the NHS and our hospital partners has been key over the last year in ensuring the safety of our staff and the families in our care. While we have not been able to operate at full capacity, we were still able to keep 1,521 families together at such a critical time.

At the beginning of the year we predicted a 25-30% drop in income due to the cancellation of events and the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought with it. We have, however, been inspired by the generosity of our supporters and been able to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has helped us to raise £2,041,256 and keep our ‘Homes from Home’ open. 

As we look ahead, we will continue to work closely with our hospital partners as we adapt and navigate new regulations, always keeping the safety of families and our staff at the forefront.

We know that 2021/22 is going to be equally as challenging, and we again predict a shortfall in income but our focus is to ensure we are able to get our ten ‘Homes from Home’ back to full capacity and supporting all the families who need us.

We would like to extend a special thank you to our wonderful dedicated staff, volunteers and trustees who have worked hard in difficult circumstances to keep our ‘Homes from Home’ open this year, always going the extra mile to provide the best possible service to families. Thank you, very much, for the work that you do; and thank you, once again, to everyone who supports us. We hope that reading the family experiences in this report inspires you as much as they inspire us.

The impact of COVID-19

Throughout 2020/21 COVID-19 had and continues to have an impact on the service we provide to families with a seriously ill child in hospital. We have continued to do all that we can to keep our ten ‘Homes from Home’ open to support families when they need us.

While we were able to keep our ten ‘Homes from Home’ operating, to do this safely we had to close around 50% of our bedrooms and all of our communal areas. We also implemented a number of other safety measures including our staff working reduced hours to ensure social distancing was adhered. We followed hospital protocol which in most cases meant one approved family member staying with us at a time, as well as ensuring families only used our ‘Homes from Home’ for sleeping, washing and doing their laundry. These measures worked well and meant we could support families who needed us as they faced the worry of having a seriously ill child alongside the additional COVID-19 concerns. We will look to reopen communal facilities when it is safe to do so in consultation with hospital infection control teams.

Our Head Office closed in March 2020 and has remained closed since then. We continue to follow Government guidelines to work from home where possible and will reopen our office when it is safe to do so.

Jane and Fiona from Eckersley House

Jane and Fiona from Eckersley House

Our dedicated staff working in our ‘Homes from Home’ and in our Head Office had to adapt very quickly to new ways of working and deal with the many challenges that COVID-19 brought with it. But through all of this we kept the families that we are here to support at the front of our minds and at the heart of what we do.

As we were predicting a significant fall in income from fundraising events we launched an emergency appeal and quickly came up with digital and virtual fundraising campaigns and challenges to help us close that gap and we’re so grateful to all of our wonderful supporters who donated or took part in a virtual activity.

We know that 2021 is going to be equally as challenging, but we will continue to work closely with our hospital partners and adapt and navigate new regulations. Our focus is to ensure we are able to get our ‘Homes from Home’ back to full capacity to support more families when they really need us.

Supporting families like Aydin's

Rachel Payne and Sal Yildiz were suddenly thrown into hospital life when Rachel became seriously unwell, she was just over 35 weeks pregnant and needed an emergency caesarean. Within 30 seconds of his delivery, Aydin stopped breathing. He was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he spent the first 72 hours of his life on cooling treatment – where his body temperature was lowered and then warmed back up again to prevent brain damage. For the next two weeks, we gave Rachel and Sal a place to stay at Chestnut House, Cambridge.

“We could not be more grateful for Chestnut House. It made everything so much easier, especially because it meant we could be together at such a crucial time. It was so emotionally draining that I was so thankful that we could stay at Chestnut House. Every day we would have breakfast, visit Aydin, have lunch, nap or call our parents in our room or go for a walk, then go back up to visit Aydin, have dinner in our room and visit Aydin again. It was easy for us to be there. We were so close to Aydin that it wasn’t stressful and we didn’t have to worry. We were escaping everyday life and could just focus on Aydin.” Rachel, Aydin’s mum

In 2021/22

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions we were not able to help as many families as usual. For the safety of our staff and the families we support we closed around 50% of bedrooms and our communal areas.

  • 1,521

    Families supported

    We supported 1,521 families in our 'Homes from Home'

  • 21,888

    Nights provided

    We provided 21,888 nights

  • 14

    Average Stay

    The average length of stay in our 'Homes from Home' is 14 nights

A day in the life of our House Managers

In order to keep our ‘Homes from Home’ open during the last 12 months, and to ensure the safety of families and staff, our House Managers adapted their day-to-day routines to include new COVID-19 procedures.

Ann Wyatt, Treetop and Magnolia House Manager, describing a typical day before COVID-19:

Ann Wyatt, Treetop and Magnolia House Manager, describing a typical day before COVID-19:

“I manage Treetop and Magnolia Houses and make sure they run smoothly, and my days would often involve sitting down of a morning with a mum, chatting about how her poorly child is doing over a cup of coffee or meeting a dad in the hallway and discussing how their day had been. As well as taking deliveries donated from our wish lists, doing budgets and inducting families, I would also prepare rooms and make sure our ‘Homes from Home’ were warm and welcoming places for the families who need us.”

Andrew Leadbitter, Crawford House Manager, explaining how our ‘Homes from Home’ adapted their typical day to include COVID-19 procedures:

Andrew Leadbitter, Crawford House Manager, explaining how our ‘Homes from Home’ adapted their typical day to include COVID-19 procedures:

“Things have changed so much because of COVID-19. Families are still at the heart of everything we do but now I spend a lot of my day doing risk assessments and checks to make sure Crawford House is a safe and clean place for families to stay. I prepare rooms following guidelines, talk to hospital infection control and make sure rooms

are stocked with tea and coffee since our kitchen is closed. Social distancing measures mean we can’t give a family a hug after a tough day but we can still be there to show compassion and kindness when they need it.”

Making an impact

Max and Keira's Law

Max and Keira's Law

Since 2017, we have worked alongside The Mirror newspaper on its Change the Law for Life, a campaign to change the laws regarding organ donation to an opt-out system.

It started in Scott House, building a close bond with the family of a young man who was waiting for a lifesaving donor heart. Max Johnson’s parents, Emma and Paul, were introduced to our Communications Team and shared their experience to help raise awareness of our ‘Homes from Home’.

Not only did Max’s story touch our hearts, it touched the heart of the nation.

Our Communications Team, who for years had been working with Mirror Journalist Jeremy Armstrong, introduced Max’s parents to Jeremy. From there, Jeremy documented Max’s agonising wait, the moment he received his gift, the day he met his donor, Keira’s, family and his pleas to Theresa May.

Building trust, empowering Max’s family and working closely with The Mirror aided the success of this campaign and the historic moment in May 2020 when new legislation was introduced: Max and Keira’s law.

Eliana's Story

Since Eliana was born, she has been in and out of Leeds Children’s Hospital for weeks and months at a time. We have been keeping her parents, Louise and Richard, by her side as much as possible by giving them a place to stay at Eckersley House.

Eliana is now two years old and has already had major heart surgery and two emergency bowel surgeries. Being so close by has been a huge comfort for both Louise and Richard and given them one less thing to worry about.

On average, families stay in our ‘Homes from Home’ for 14 nights. Louise and Richard’s longest stay has been four months. Eckersley House became a real ‘Home from Home’ for them, giving them a place to rest and gather their thoughts away from the hospital ward, while knowing they were just a stone’s throw away.

We have been able to keep 1,521 families together, despite the challenges the global pandemic has brought. It has meant that parents like Louise and Richard have been able to be there for their child at the most crucial times.

We will continue to be there for families like Eliana’s no matter what and have proven we can be in the most challenging circumstances.

Income and expenditure 2020/21

Email Newsletter

Every year we help families by giving them somewhere to stay near their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Sign up to receive our email newsletters to stay up to date with how your support is helping to keep families together.