This year, Acorns Children’s Hospice has been celebrating – it is 25 years since the first hospice, in Selly Oak, was opened by Princess Diana. Since then, 17 life limited and life threatened children and their families from across the B31 area have received their care and support.
“Acorns relies on voluntary donations and fundraising for the majority of the income needed to provide specialist palliative care,” explained chief executive David Strudley, “so we simply wouldn’t have been able to help those 17 children and families without the ongoing support of the local community.
“We know from our records that in the last 25 years individuals, groups, organisations and businesses in the B31 area have helped us to the tune of over £868,000. At our current running costs of £750 per child per day, that’s the equivalent of 1,157 days of care for local life limited children!
“This could have been via loose change in a collection tin, a bake sale in the church hall, dress down day in the office, a school concert, running a marathon or even trekking across a desert. The ways that people find to support Acorns are endless and never cease to amaze and humble us.”
The B31 community has also supported the children’s charity through its network of stores, by either donating unwanted items or shopping for clothing, books and many other goods.
“It’s not just financial support that we want to recognise and say thank you for,” commented David Strudley.
“Acorns depends on an army of volunteers giving up their time to help out in the hospices, shops and out and about in the community. There are currently 32 active volunteers from the B31 area alone supporting the organisation. Without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to do so much valuable work.”
This look back comes as Acorns enters the first full calendar year of its ambitious five year growth strategy which aims to help to provide palliative care and support to the 2,000 plus estimated life-limited and life-threatened children in the region.
During its 25th anniversary year, the organisation has supported over 640 life-limited and life-threatened children and almost 900 families, including those that are bereaved. The five year strategy aims to increase the numbers that may use their services by 50% to 960 and 1,290 respectively by 2018.
This extensive increase in provision will mean an overall increase in annual care costs of around £4.2m by the end of the five year plan period. This will require an increase in overall income of almost 50% by 2018 to meet costs.
David Strudley added: “It’s been wonderful to be able to reflect on the last 25 years and see how many children and families we’ve been able to help with the support of the local community.
“But it’s more important than ever to look forward and make sure we can continue to provide a lifeline to families facing the huge emotional, physical and financial challenges that come with caring for a life limited or life threatened child. Ensuring we can offer these children specialist palliative care has always been our priority.
“On behalf of everyone at Acorns, I extend a big thank you to the B31 community and appeal to supporters past, present and future to make Acorns a part of their plans for 2014 in whatever way they can.”