A Blackpool children’s hospice has reached a major milestone – but needs fresh help to keep it going.
Brian House in Bispham needs to raise an extra £600,000-a-year just to break even and is appealing for Gazette readers to help support a year of intensive fund-raising.
The centre, which cares for seriously ill youngsters, will host major events throughout the year to raise cash.
Chief executive officer David Houston said: “Turning 21 is an exciting moment for any young person. The whole world seems to be opening up before them.
“But for the children and young people at Brian House, that rarely becomes reality. Many will never reach an age to get the ‘key to the door’ – their lives are just too short.
“That’s why we exist. We help them to enjoy life the way every child should, bringing so much fun and laughter as they create wonderful memories and realise some dreams.”
He added: “To do all this we need help, especially if we are to secure our long term future. The trouble is that, in some ways, Brian House Children’s Hospice is the Fylde coast’s best kept secret.
“We must raise our profile during 2017 as we celebrate our 21st birthday.
“Please tell your family and friends about us, make us your New Year resolution, and join our special events and celebrations – it will be fun!”
Brian House opened in December 1996 and currently supports more than 80 families. As well as end-of-life care, it offers its facilities during the day for free so parents can have some well-needed respite, and round the clock support.
All four bedrooms have a theme, the hospice has a sensory room and corridor, a craft room, kitchen, and large lounge areas.
There are two apartments upstairs for parents to stay in if needed and, poignantly, the Butterfly Suite offers a place of repose when a child or young person dies – even outside the hospice, such as at the Victoria Hospital – and a place for grieving families to stay.
The hospice never charges for use of its facilities, and receives a tiny fraction of its annual running costs, which totalled £1.256m last year, from the government.
Over 80 per cent of the costs relate to staffing, including nurses and health care workers and their training. In addition, there are 31 volunteers, including non-clinical assistants, playworkers, admin assistants, and a driver.
Those costs are unlikely to go down, and pressure on the hospice is increasing. The amount of money left in legacies is falling, and council cuts in social funding means staff are being asked to help where social care is falling short.
Clinical manager, Sister Carol Wylde, said: “A 21st birthday is always a time for celebration, but many of our families at Brian House never see their son or daughter reach that important milestone.
“It’s a poignant thought – and despite many wonderful advances in paediatric care, Brian House actually has more demands on its services than ever before.
“It’s a wonderful facility for the Fylde coast, but without the ongoing support of our community, we would not continue to offer our unique brand of home-from-home care.
“All the staff here are proud to be part of the Brian House story and we are hoping that our local communities will throw their energy and enthusiasm into the Brian House birthday and truly make it a year to remember.”
Bubble Rush, a family friendly 5km course will take participants through four coloured bubble stations, and will be held on Lawson’s Showground in Blackpool from noon on Saturday, April 1.
The Wiggle Trailblaze will be held in partnership with St Catherine’s Hospice in Preston at Scorton on Sunday, April 16, and will see runners enjoy a countryside route.
The Beaverbrooks run will be held on Sunday, May 7, while the fund-raising ball will be held in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom in September.
The hospice has also launched its first ever crowdfunding page, and used it in a bid to cover the running costs on January 1.
Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brian-house-21st-birthday for more information.