Little Havens children’s hospice offers gardens to families in crisis

A children’s hospice is offering the use of its gardens to families experiencing an exceptional crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

Little Havens, based in Thundersley, has extensive grounds including landscaped gardens and surrounding woodland. It’s an accessible, tranquil space which is being offered to families with children up to the age of 19 – perhaps with an illnesses, long term condition, additional learning or other exceptional family need – where an assessment has been undertaken.

Families do not need to be under the current care of Little Havens, but an assessment must first take place to ensure vulnerable families most in need take priority.

Head of Children’s Services Katie White says, “With our spacious gardens, carefully planned access and thorough cleaning schedule, we’re able to offer this space for up to 90 minutes for families experiencing an exceptional crisis, or time away from the family home would help to deescalate a situation.

“We have a range of specialist and standard playground equipment, sensory trails and secluded areas ideal for picnics or quiet time. We feel that families caring for a child with additional needs could really benefit from this offer.”

Toby-Jay Harding, 7 from Southend, has been visiting with his family. Mum Jayne says, “To be able to use the Little Havens garden is a lifeline to us. We are having to shield and it’s really tough on Toby-Jay as he has limited understanding, his behaviour is affected and this is starting to have an impact on his brother.

“To be able to come to such a big space that’s safe with lots for them to do means the world to my family.”

Access to the Little Havens building is prohibited apart from use of the toilet or changing facilities. There is no nursing care or catering available and family members must be free of Covid-19 symptoms. Garden equipment will be cleaned after use.

There is no charge for this service, and can only continue thanks to donations made by kind supporters. With all public fundraising events postponed or cancelled, the charity is relying on gifts – whatever the amount – to keep caring.

Professionals or healthcare workers wishing to make a referral on behalf of a family can contact: [email protected]  or call 01702 552 200 for an informal chat or copy of the assessment form. Little Havens families can contact the hospice directly to request this support.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]