Funding report reveals impact of Covid-19 on children’s hospices

Community support is vital for children’s hospice care and being there for families like Jack’s

Following a recent report into the impact of COVID-19 on UK children’s hospices’ funding, national charity, Together for Short Lives, warns that “children’s hospices face an uncertain funding future” at a time when families need them more than ever.

TFSL_report_coverReleased on 23 June 2021, during Children’s Hospice Week, the ‘Pushed to the limits‘ report from Together for Short Lives outlines some of the ways the pandemic has changed the funding landscape and how hospices see their future.

Based on a survey conducted in April and May 2021 across 29 UK children’s hospice organisations, the report details an increase in the number of seriously ill children, a fall in fundraising income during 2020/21, and a high number of hospices projecting a deficit in the next financial year.

Like all charities, Chestnut Tree House’s fundraising was hit hard by the pandemic. Many of our activities and events were cancelled or postponed, and our charity shops were closed for long periods.

Findings from the Together for Short Lives COVID-19 impact report include:

  • In 2020/21, average hospice income from fundraising challenge events fell by over half (58%)
  • On average, hospice income from charity shops and trading activities fell by over half (57%)
  • Over three-quarters (77%) of children’s hospices expect their income to fall this year
  • 83% of children’s hospices expect to report a deficit in 2021/22

Explaining how the future looks for Chestnut Tree House, CEO Ben Merrett said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the local community since the COVID-19 crisis began. However, I don’t think it should come as any great surprise that the Together for Short Lives report reveals that over 80% of UK children’s hospices expect to report a deficit in 2021/22, Chestnut Tree House included.

“Your incredible support, along with government grants, means that we were able to cover our care costs last year. However, the future still looks uncertain, and we expect to have a shortfall over the next few years.

“None of us could have predicted the pandemic. However, what we need to focus on is the future. Our care teams and support staff continue to do an incredible job, charity shops are open again, planning is underway for future fundraising events, and our community are behind us. That community support is now more important than ever to ensure that local children and young people who need hospice care continue to receive it, along with support for their families. 

Jack walks 44m for hospice care“As the UK, and the world, are starting to take tentative steps to leave COVID-19 behind, it’s important to understand just how much of an impact the last year has had on the children and families Chestnut Tree House support and care for. Children just like Jack (pictured). 

“Caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition is far from straightforward, and the pandemic made it even harder. Many of us will have felt isolated or under pressure at some point during lockdown, but imagine having to shield at home to protect a vulnerable child who needs 24/7 care. Imagine doing that without your usual support network. Some families have felt pushed to their limits.”

Chestnut Tree House has remained open for emergency and end-of-life care throughout the pandemic but had to pause their day care service last year, as well as routine short breaks. The care team have been working tirelessly to adapt services and ensure they continue supporting families, and some Chestnut Tree House nurses also helped at St Barnabas House adults’ hospice during the height of the pandemic, as well as at local hospitals to take pressure off the NHS.

“We know that many families have missed being able to visit Chestnut Tree House,” says Ben Merrett, “and we’re delighted that we’re now open again for day visits and short breaks. This is a vital part of our service as parents need that time to rest and recharge.”

Emma, mum to Jack, who was born with a rare life-limiting condition, Lowe Syndrome, relies on Chestnut Tree House for support and says they would be lost without it.

“This past year has been tough and Chestnut Tree House have been so supportive,” says Emma.

Jacks Story“Although Jack hasn’t been going in for the usual visits, they’ve always been there for us at the other end of the phone if we needed to talk to someone. We started shielding back in March 2020. That makes it over a year now that Jack’s been at home. In that time, his health’s been up and down – more downs than ups, to be honest, which has been rubbish. His seizures have increased, it’s not been great, but we have just been dealing with it as best we can really.

“When Chestnut were finally allowed to open their doors again, Jack was ready for his stay, and we were so happy to see him all excited. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without Chestnut. They are our absolute rock. I know there are lots more families like ours that really need this support – they’ve been struggling like we have.”

If you would like to help Chestnut Tree House so that they can continue supporting families like Jack’s, click here.