Can you help EACH create a special nook Haven?

Kirsty Brown, Quidenham hospice Spiritual Care Adviser, at the current haven at Quidenham.

Kirsty Brown, Quidenham hospice Spiritual Care Adviser, at the current haven at Quidenham. - Credit: Archant

East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) is urging the people of Norfolk to support its nook appeal which, launched by the Duchess of Cambridge, aims to construct a new purpose built hospice costing £10m to build and equip. LAUREN COPE looks at why the charity's work is so important at Christmas.

The Haven at The Treehouse EACH hospice in Ipswich.

The Haven at The Treehouse EACH hospice in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) offers all the families they support, whether they are bereaved or not, spiritual care throughout the year to help them cope with the challenges they face.

This includes the current medical and emotional needs of their child, preparing for end of life care and the emotional needs of all family members.

EACH employs spiritual care advisors and works with volunteer chaplains who can be there for families to listen to their concerns, provide prayer or rituals, such as baptism, anointing or communion and help organise religious services or end of life ceremonies.

They can chat with families about how they're feeling and have knowledge about many different faiths and have contacts in local religious communities. Spiritual care advisors and volunteer chaplains can also put families in contact with hospital chaplains or services local to their home.

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This support is available all year round, but can be more in demand during holidays such as Christmas when the focus is upon the family unit.

Learning that your child is very ill is a difficult and painful time, whether you're a religious person or not.

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Spirituality refers to the things that give life meaning and value. It can involve many questions and concerns, and can encompass the relationship with the individual, other people and sometimes God or a deity. Spirituality is an integral part of any religion, but it can also be a meaningful part of anyone's life.

EACH has a quiet room at both The Treehouse in Ipswich and Milton hospice, known as 'The Haven'.

They are quiet spaces which anyone can use at anytime for reflection, contemplation, prayer or ceremonies.

Unlike The Treehouse and Milton which have havens within the hospice building, due to the constraints of Quidenham, the haven is a small wooden summerhouse in the playground. The nook will have a purpose built haven which will cost £155,000.

Kirsty Brown, Quidenham hospice spiritual care advisor, said: 'At Quidenham, spiritual care is an essential part of our everyday care. It encompasses all that we do here from caring for the life limited and life threatened children, young people and their families through to funeral planning and supporting bereaved families through the difficult journey of losing their precious child and or sibling.

'In the last 18 months we have managed to build an improvised, small, sacred space we call 'The Haven'. It is a place for families or staff to go to for some quiet time on their own or as a family. It's a protected space for use where staff can support families and children. It's a sacred space where families can go to pray and practice their faith, no matter what their religious beliefs are. We offer a variety of religious books and objects to support this.

'When their child has come to the end of their life it is also a place the family can go to and spend time alone in those last precious moments if they wish to be away from everyone and all the hustle and bustle within the hospice.

'Sadly due to space constraints at Quidenham, we've never had enough space to house this within the building so 'The Haven' is a small wooden summer house in the playground area.

'It requires parents to leave the main building and walk outside, through the children's play area, which is not always appropriate and can be challenging. For a parent in distress, a room inside the building itself would be so much more discreet and personal.

'In the summer a family were able to sit with their child in the Haven, while their children played outside, enjoying time together as a family.

'This can be challenging for staff, as there is no call system and there is a balance to be made between the medical needs of the child and the emotional needs of the family.

'Despite our best efforts, The Haven is sometimes inaccessible to some service users.

'An internal space with double doors to give access to children's beds, large chairs and wheelchairs would enhance both the use of the Haven and our spiritual care. The Art Therapists and Music Therapists could use the room for confidential sessions, enhancing the space as a core part of our working environment.

'It would be marvellous in my role as spiritual care advisor to see it fully integrated as an important physical presence in the centre of the building representing spiritual care for all our service users and staff. It is at the core of all the work we do here, having the Haven inside would show it's not just an after thought.

'At the Treehouse in Ipswich there was a family of Muslim faith who were very unsure about using a hospice and very apprehensive about having their child cared for there.

'When they saw 'The Haven', the prayer mats on the floor and Qibla marked on the wall, they changed their minds.

'It showed to them that we embraced their culture and were open to people of all faiths and the rituals and practices which were important to them in their faith practice.

'For them, the Haven was a visual representation of EACH's holistic approach and focus on the whole family, with their spiritual well being as an important part of that.'

Whatever the family's wishes are for their child's care, EACH works to accommodate them as closely as they can. Every family is unique in their spirituality, religion, culture, beliefs and values and EACH always asks what their preferences are.

A Haven at the nook will ensure the best possible spiritual care can be delivered, and it's the generosity of the people of Norfolk that it depends upon.

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