A group of eight specialist nurses have set off from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in Milton to the International Space Station (ISS) as they attempt to help the charity fill a void in its income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
EACH team hopes for out-of-this-world fundraising performance - heading for International Space Station
Debbi Lynn, Matron, alongside Amber Coogan, Jenna Ridout, Emma May Chitty (pictured), Kelly Willett, Nina Dempsey, Aimee Tyrrell and Yasmin Farquhar, Clinical Nurse Specialists, who are part of EACH’s Symptom Management Nursing Service and have worked at the charity for 26 years between them, are attempting to walk or run 500 miles, the distance from EACH’s hospice in Milton to the ISS and back, collectively by the end of May. Their aim was to raise £500, but they have already got over £2,700.
Debbi said: “It’s going really well. A lot of us are running during our outdoor exercise time and a few have home exercise machines. Everyone is motivated and there’s lots of ‘run chat’ going on via our app after work, which is great for our own morale in lockdown. Quite a few of us are complete newbies to running and there are times when we’ve run quite far from home, then realised how far it is back! We’re getting such lovely support from the rest of the team, though, and it’s for an excellent cause, so keeps us moving.”
EACH’s Symptom Management Nursing Service provides families with advice and support to manage their child’s health needs and symptoms, from diagnosis to end of life, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Amber said: “Children and their families teach us all great lessons, mainly that death is not the opposite to life, but a part of it. Maximising life and treating symptoms, so the child and family can enjoy their time together, is the most crucial and special part of my work.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen people have to think outside the box and adapt to continue working, but Yasmin explained this is par for the course being part of the Symptom Management Nursing Service.
“The children, young people and families we support through our roles are dynamic and unique, and we know no two days are the same for them. The symptom management team adapt to the needs of the families, hearing when they say to us that they often feel isolated, scared and unsure about what is to come over the next days or weeks. We work alongside families to advocate and encourage. We know we may not change the end of the story for families, but we try and do everything to support the chapters in between. COVID-19 has brought many struggles for charities like EACH, however, the thing that has not changed during this pandemic is our ongoing commitment to families and our work. I’m proud to work for such a passionate organisation and be part of the symptom management team.”
EACH has forecasted a significant income loss, having had to close its shops and seen its supporters’ fundraising activities, as well as its own events, cancelled or postponed. The charity has been asking people to get creative with at-home fundraising ideas. There are lots of ideas on its website, such as the EACH Mile Counts campaign that has helped inspire the ISS challenge. The idea is people take on a sporting challenge, doing it their way and in their own time. A ‘wall of fame’ on EACH’s website shows who has taken part and what they have done, keeping track of the collective amount of miles covered.
Asked why people should donate if they could, Debbi added: “Even working at Milton, it’s so hard to capture what EACH means for children, young people and their families, so I’d say go to the website, look at the family stories and videos, and hear directly from them as there’s nobody that could tell their stories and the importance of EACH’s work better than they do.”
East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) aims to maximise the quality of life for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, and to support their families.