Middlesbrough’s only dedicated baby hospice has made a desperate appeal for support to prevent it from having to close its doors for two days a week.

Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice issued a rallying call to the public to ensure this essential and unique service remains in the heart of the town after increasing demand for its services and changes in respite care funding.

Situated in the historic Crossbeck House in Normanby, Zoë’s Place provides palliative, respite and bereavement care for families of babies and children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. Since opening its doors in 2004 it has cared for more than 350 children.

The hospice today has more than 30 babies and young children receiving regular nursing care in its special home from home environment.

With two sister facilities in Liverpool and Coventry, Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice is the UK’s only dedicated hospice service for babies and young children up to their sixth birthdays.

While the majority of the families are local, as long as the staff can provide the appropriate care it is the policy of all Zoë’s Place hospices that no young child is turned away and it has cared for children from as far afield as Scarborough.

But general manager Mark Guidery says it now faces having to close for one or two nights each week, leaving families without this precious provision. 

Mark said: “We have always had fantastic support from businesses and individuals in the local community. But without a doubt, these are the most challenging times we’ve ever faced.

“To ensure our long-term viability we need regular donations from as many different income streams as possible. Unless we receive help month in, month out, year in, year out, we won’t be able to continue to help these wonderful children and their families.”

Mark said many individual supporters choose to donate so much per month from their bank accounts in a regular giving scheme, while companies can encourage employees to donate through their salaries.

“All funds raised make a huge difference to this amazing hospice. Over the years I have been privileged to meet children who have raised funds for the hospice by selling their own toys.

“At the other end of the age scale, we have welcomed supporters at our reception who have made incredible one-off donations. Some companies organise fundraising events and charity dinners to benefit the

hospice.

“Whatever the donation, it all helps to keep the service our nursing team provides open to families who desperately need it.

“The harsh reality is that without the generosity of the local and regional community we won’t be able to continue to run this vital, unique service for Middlesbrough. It would be heartbreaking to turn away these special children and their families so we need all the help we can get.

“We hope everyone in Middlesbrough will get behind us by giving regularly. We have to find £1.5m a year to keep our doors open. If supporters give just £10 a month each via direct debit or call by the hospice to make a one-off donation it will help our children and their families to get the care and support they deserve.”

For further information visit zoes-place.org.uk.

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