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’. This year we are celebrating 40 years of keeping families together.
We were founded by two paediatric consultants who believed that keeping families together could help a sick child’s recovery. Dr Jon Pritchard and Professor James Malpas alongside a committee fundraised for two years and in 1984 we opened our first ‘Home from Home’.
With the generosity of so many supporters, we have helped over 73,000 families since 1982, and we are working to a future where every family with a seriously ill child in hospital can stay together, close to their child’s hospital bedside.
The families that stay in our ‘Homes from Home’ often tell us that it’s our staff that make the biggest difference during some of the most difficult moments in their lives. From making sure that the houses are clean and comfortable, to being a friendly face and an ear to listen when needed, our house teams go above and beyond to look after the families that stay in our ‘Homes from Home’.
Read on for the highlights from our special anniversary Impact Report, or download the full PDF version below.
They wanted to change this and make a difference to those families as their belief was that keeping families together could aid the child’s recovery.
Our founders’ vision for a future where families could stay together near their sick child became a reality with the opening of Rainbow House in London and to this day we strive to keep their legacy going.
Since then, we have opened another nine ‘Homes from Home’ in Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Cambridge and London, and we hope you enjoy reading about their progress and stories from the families who have been supported there along the way.
Without The Sick Children’s Trust, more than 73,000 families would have slept in hospital chairs, their cars, expensive hotels or would have had to drive long distances to be by their sick child’s hospital bedside. Thanks to the incredible support we have received over the last 40 years, we have raised over £44,000,000 ensuring those families have one less thing to worry about.
The last two years of our 40-year history have been two of the most challenging but we’re now looking to a future where we can grow and continue to do what we do best – welcome families with caring staff and a warm and comfortable place to stay.
We would like to thank our dedicated staff, volunteers, trustees and of course all of the amazing supporters without whom we would not be able to continue helping families when they really need it.
Our mission is to provide welcoming, comfortable ‘Homes from Home’ to keep families together when they have a sick child in hospital, and kind, caring staff to support them.
A lot has happened over the last 40 years to help us achieve this mission, and we’ve grown from being able to support just eight families at a time to 148 before COVID-19.
Last year we supported over 2,000 families at ten locations across the UK. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of how we’ve grown.
To explore each of our decades in more detail, download the full Impact Report below.
Pat Munton was our first head office member of staff, joining The Sick Children’s Trust in 1987 as a secretary and researcher. She was instrumental in keeping everything organised within our ‘Homes from Home’ as well as being a key historian with the detailed accounts she kept in the early years of our inception.
Our Chief Executives
Claudette Watson became The Sick Children’s Trust’s Chief Executive in 1999. During the 16 years of her inspiring leadership, she oversaw the opening of seven new ‘Homes from Home’ and extensions in our previous three houses to significantly increase the number of families we support each year.
Jane Featherstone then took over as Chief Executive after nine years working at The Sick Children’s Trust. Jane first started as a Trust Fundraiser before becoming Head of Fundraising in 2009. Her incredible commitment to our work made her the perfect candidate to become our next Chief Executive. Over the last seven years Jane’s leadership has elevated the charity to the level it stands today as we move forward and continue to support families when they need us.
More than a decade of fundraising
Marcus and his wife Laura were supported by Treetop House in 2009 when their son, Harry, needed life-saving treatment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. After Harry recovered, the family started fundraising to thank us and they set up their annual event, the Leverton Ball. 12 years later and through the family’s tireless efforts, they have now raised a staggering £236,600 which is enough for us to support a family in every one of Treetop House’s 13 rooms for 455 nights.
Eric Davis has been volunteering at our Head Office since October 2017, assisting our fundraising team with approaching businesses to support events, sourcing prizes for our online auctions and selling tickets to our biggest fundraisers. His support has been invaluable to the team for the last four years.
Jim Finn (pictured) started volunteering for us in December 2016 and during his time working at our Head Office he has processed feedback from the families we have supported, filed invoices and explored opportunities with businesses close to becoming supporters. He has been an incredible asset to our Finance Team. We couldn’t support all the families we do without volunteers in our ‘Homes from Home’.
Marianne Vallery (pictured) has been a vital support in our Cambridge ‘Homes from Home’, helping to make our families as comfortable as possible and providing much needed home cooked meals for them to enjoy. Marianne saw first-hand the impact our ‘Homes from Home’ have and in 2021 she became a permanent member of the Cambridge team as an Assistant House Manager.
Supporting families like Evie's
We first supported Evie’s family in Rainbow House in 2009 while she underwent treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Evie was born with Crouzon Syndrome, a rare genetic syndrome which affects approximately one in 65,000 children at birth. It means that the seams in the plates in Evie’s skull had already fused together before she was born which would prevent her skull from growing normally.
Evie’s dad Ian said:
From the moment I met Sandra and Tina [the Rainbow House team], I knew we were going to be safe and well cared for. And when I walked into Rainbow House I was absolutely astounded. We had somewhere clean, comfortable and safe where we could stay for free, just minutes from Evie’s bedside for as long as it took her to recover. I couldn’t believe it. It was too good to be true.”
Evie’s family and friends have been fundraising for us ever since their first stay in Rainbow House, with Ian taking on some mammoth challenges for us and raising more than £21,000. 14 years on we’re continuing to support Evie’s family as she undergoes further treatments and operations, and her dad has most recently completed the London Marathon for us – thank you Ian.
2021/22 brought with it the hope that soon we would be able to get back to supporting as many families as possible. Social distancing restrictions, despite easing slightly, were still in place for most of the year, however this easing meant that we were able to help 632 more families than during the first year of COVID-19.
Keeping up the momentum from our very first online event in 2020, we went on to launch our tough sit-up and squat virtual challenges in 21/22, inviting our supporters to take part in our month-long fitness events. In total over 550 of our supporters took on these tough challenges, raising enough to support families for 410 nights in our ‘Homes from Home’.
Autumn and Winter continued to be a busy season for The Sick Children’s Trust as we held our second online Auction House event, followed by an online Carol Service hosted by classical soprano and long-term celebrity supporter Christina Johnston.
Alongside these events lots of our supporters took on epic physical challenges throughout the year, with runners taking on the Great North Run, The Cambridge Half Marathon, The Royal Parks Half Marathon and The London Marathon for us, raising a huge £110,000.
These events all contributed to the amazing total of £1,919,136 raised to support families with a seriously ill child in hospital.
We supported 2,153 families in our 'Homes from Home'
We provided 29,003 nights of accommodation
The average length of stay in our 'Homes from Home' was 13 nights
My son Finley was born seven weeks early and was immediately whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit at Chesterfield Hospital where he stayed for the next 15 days. Finley was closely monitored while he built up strength before we were able to bring him home.
“Unfortunately, that only lasted 19 days when Finley became unwell again with cold like symptoms. When he didn’t seem like he was breathing right I became really concerned and took him to the doctor. After some quick checks they knew something was seriously wrong and told us to take him straight to A&E.
“Once we got there Finley’s health deteriorated very quickly. His oxygen levels were dropping and he was struggling to breathe on his own. While the emergency doctors began running tests to try and find the cause of his ill health, he was placed on a breathing machine. He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and sepsis and in the early hours of the following morning he also suffered a collapsed lung. Finley needed to be intubated and his breathing was completely taken over by a machine.
“It was incredibly difficult to watch our baby go through all of this, especially considering his prematurity. Just hours later though we got the worst news we have ever received. Finley’s body was struggling under all the stress of his illnesses and at five weeks old he went into cardiac arrest. No parent can be prepared to hear those words or that we don’t know if he is going to pull through. After 11 minutes of chest compressions the incredible doctors managed to bring him back and get him stable for a transfer to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“I was absolutely terrified during that trip not only because of how close we came to losing Finley, but now we were going to be in a different city 45 minutes away from our home. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him but as Finley was admitted to the intensive care unit we were told we had a place to stay with The Sick Children’s Trust at Magnolia House, just minutes away from Finley’s side.
“I can’t tell you the absolute relief I felt in that moment. It would have been heart- breaking to leave him and there was just no way we could have done it. Thanks to Magnolia House we never had to. After a week in hospital Finley was able to go home. He’s a thriving four-month-old now and we are finally feeling like we are starting our journey as a family all thanks to the amazing support we received from the staff at the hospital and The Sick Children’s Trust.
Jess Bray, Finley’s mum
Income and expenditure 2021/22
We want to continue our founders’ vision and make sure families never have to sleep in hospital chairs, their cars, expensive hotels or drive long distances to be by their sick child’s hospital bedside again. So we’re appealing to you to help us raise £237,000 to support families in all 148 rooms of our ‘Homes from Home’ for 40 nights.