Home sweet home

In her regular column highlighting local charities and projects, Link4Growth volunteer Debra Oakaby visits a children’s hospice in Woodford Green

Haven House

Haven House provides children both day care and a place to stay overnight

Prior to Hospice Care Week this week I visited Haven House Children’s Hospice in Woodford Green.

According to Hospice UK, every year hospices provide more than 26 million hours of tailored and compassionate care, supporting 360,000 patients and their families. Haven House, near the borough border with Redbridge, is one of those places.

Mike Palfreman, chief executive of the charity, says: “We are providing care and support to more life-limited children and their families than ever before, but it is still the case that not enough families are accessing hospice care services in our local area.”

Forty-two percent of children using Haven’s services live in Waltham Forest, which is the highest proportion of the eleven boroughs they serve. And a pilot scheme for providing hospice care at home was launched in this borough a few months ago.

Haven House occupies The White House, an impressive detached former family home with an illustrious history, is set in four acres of protected woodland. There is a fabulous children’s playground with a wheelchair accessible swing and a giant sunken trampoline especially for wheelchairs.

Joanne Lazarus, community and events fundraiser at Haven House, came to our Link4Growth meeting in September and told us about Pumpkin Plod; a spooky sponsored forest walk from the hospice on Sunday 23rd October, at 2pm.

Subsequently, I met Joanne for a guided tour of Haven House. She pointed out personal touches, which make the hospice feel more like a home with lots of fun-filled play activities. The large arts and crafts room enables children to make their own artwork and explore places in the specially-adapted sensory room, without leaving the hospice.

Since 2003, Haven House has helped more than 650 families. Joanne showed me two memory books, which commemorate the lives of deceased children. An artist creates a unique page for each child, ensuring that no-one is forgotten. I visited the Butterfly Suite, a personal space where families can say goodbye and grieve privately.

Notwithstanding this, Mike said: “Parents need to know a significant proportion of the care we provide is respite; it is not predominantly about death and dying.”

The hospice has five bedrooms, with bunting draped across the windows and floors raised up, so that children can see the garden and trees outside. They can also bring their own bedding. Families can stay too, in a modern self-contained flat on the same floor.

One-to-one support is available to brothers and sisters through Buddies, a siblings support group, and they even have their own hut in the garden, which was refurbished by ITV’s 60-Minute Makeover programme in 2015.

Around 70 staff work for Haven House, including registered nurses and healthcare support workers. And there are two charity shops in the borough in Chingford and Leytonstone. Hospice Care Week continues until 9th October.


For more information about Haven House:

Call 020 8498 5849

Visit havenhouse.org.uk