From the very beginning of Mam Cymru we knew that we wanted to do something for the community and hopefully help to improve the lives of others here in Wales. Both Ashleigh and I were unanimous in our decision to support Tŷ Hafan; the hospice that helps life limited children and their families in Wales.
Why did we choose them?
Because the work they do is amazing. We know families who have benefited greatly from their first-class care and support, and we wanted to help.
How are we supporting Tŷ Hafan?
Initially, we are fundraising for this charity through the sales on our online shop within the Mam Cymru blogzine. Here you’ll find our unique products, a collection of slogan and personalised tops for the whole family. Myself and Ashleigh came up with the slogans which are all positive, funny and empowering. Ashleigh does the design work and Gwenan, a lovely Mother of 2 from Llyn-y-groes, prints them!
When I spoke to Shelley Kirkman, one of the regional fundraisers, about our idea, she was as excited and as enthusiastic as us and the partnership was set up!
Last Friday, Shelley invited Ashleigh and I for a tour of Tŷ Hafan. Here’s a snapshot of our day ….
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve become an emotional wreck since I had my daughter Elsi almost 5 years ago. I was therefore worried about crying from the minute I arrived on site. The reality was a completely different experience.
The moment we arrived at Tŷ Hafan, after a beautiful 3-hour drive from rural Mid Wales, there was an instant sense of peace and positivity. The hospice is light and airy, and has the most amazing sea views. The staff were amongst the happiest and most positive people I’ve ever met!
Shelley, who was as bubbly in person as she was on the telephone, met us at the Reception area and took us straight up to the first floor. Upstairs there are 8 modern and light parents/ family bedrooms and a communal kitchen and dining facilities which overlook the amazing play park. They all have incredible sea views too – totally relaxing!
Shelley told us that each family who is referred here, can spend up to two weeks a year at Tŷ Hafan. This means that the whole family is supported. The parents and children have time to rest and enjoy themselves, and all free of charge. This means that this facility is accessible to all. Fantastic.
Also located on the first floor is the therapy room, where children as well as their Mums and Dads can have massages, both for medical needs and for relaxation. None of us have much time to relax, but parents who look after life limited children have even less time, their role as parents is extremely demanding and tiring. Staying at Tŷ Hafan allows them to have a rest from their busy routine, and have some time to themselves. Brilliant.
The communal facilities encourage parents to socialise and meet other families who are going through similar and equally difficult situations, encouraging families to support each other. We were informed that many families socialise outside the hospice during their stay, the Mums may choose to go shopping or on a day out and the Dads do whatever Dads do!
Downstairs there are 10 children’s bedrooms and all the care and ‘magical’ facilities needed to ensure that each child has everything they need and desire during their stay. Before they arrive, a letter is sent out to ask the child what theme they prefer for their bedroom. All children get to choose their bedding, curtains and toys so that it’s like a home from home, and if their chosen theme isn’t available the team will source their chosen items to ensure that everything is in place and perfect before they arrive. How good is that?!
During the tour, it became apparent that there are no strict rules at Tŷ Hafan. Since it first opened its doors in 1999, at a cost of £5m, this is a place where the children and families dreams come to life, everyone is treated like a VIP. This is brilliant.
If parents want or need to sleep in the same room as their children, they can do. If the children want to make a mess or be noisy, they can do. If parents want to go on a night out, they can do. The staff will do everything they can to make their stay as perfect as possible, ensuring that they leave with nothing but happy memories and a sense of rejuvenation.
Siblings too are catered for. Tŷ Hafan recognises that sometimes having a seriously or terminally ill sibling can be hard. Some children may at times struggle with their emotions or just feel a bit neglected due to the amount of care or attention their brother or sister require. They too are welcomed with open arms, and are given support both in the centre and back at home.
The play areas and care facilities are amazing! If you haven’t seen the video of me on the trampoline (thanks Shelley!) go to our Facebook page! The messy room is every child’s dream – a room where two giggling boys with painted green hands were running after their carer, all laughing out loud! There’s also a music room, computer room, make up area, den and video games area, a sensory garden and an amazing interactive storytelling room where children can lie on the floor and characters come to life around them – amazing!
Tŷ Hafan is an inclusive environment which means that all children who stay here can have fun and never feel left out. The indoor pool area was a favourite, and hoists and mood lighting mean that all families can get access, many visiting a pool together with their parents for the first time – Things we take for granted.
We were also told about the flat, a separate accommodation, which is popular for parents who decide to come here for end of life care. There was such a family here during our visit, which is why we couldn’t view it for ourselves. I haven’t stopped thinking about that family from that moment.
We were also told that parents use the flat for a ‘cold cot’ experience, which means that babies who have sadly passed away at hospital or during birth, can ‘come home’ with their parents. This process helps these parents to have a sense of normality and closure, which in turn helps with the healing process. I can’t imagine what these families go through but I can imagine how important it is for them to experience taking a child ‘home’ from hospital. We all dream about this for 9 months, and Tŷ Hafan makes this a reality for these parents.
Another area, which we didn’t visit, but were humbled to hear about, was the Chapel – which is non-denominational and is there for families to go and think, have some quiet time or light a candle. There is also a book of memory which is on a pedestal and is opened on the anniversary of a child’s death or a birthday.
After seeing all these amazing and vital facilities and services that Tŷ Hafan offer children and families throughout Wales, Ashleigh and I were gobsmacked that the health service only donates 4% of the £4.3 million needed to provide this facility! Shocking, to say the least.
Here are some other shocking facts:
The hospice needs to raise £11,787 a day to pay for its running costs.
The average age of a child in care at Tŷ Hafan over the past 12 months, is 3 years old.
Tŷ Hafan has cared for 720 children and young people.
284 children have sadly died here.
After some lovely warm hugs from Shelley and the staff, we left this amazing place and Ashleigh and I felt even more determined to fundraise and promote the amazing work they do.
If you would like to help us to help Tŷ Hafan, visit our online shop today. Our products are all ethical and you can wear them knowing that you have made a difference.
Mam Cymru would like to thank Shelley and the staff at Tŷ Hafan. You are all amazing and we’re here to help you as much as we can X
By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.