Martin House Hospice Celebrates 25 Years
Thursday 12th July 2012The Archbishop of York today writes in the Yorkshire Post about the work of Martin House children's hospice. His article follows...
As Martin House Hospice celebrates its 25th birthday, I will have the great privilege over the next two days of meeting and thanking over 150 long-serving volunteers who help to make such a difference in the lives of others.
For those of you aren’t familiar with Martin House, it is a vital local charity which helps to provide care and support to families across Yorkshire.
When it opened in August 1987, Martin House was the North’s first children’s hospice. It was founded by the then Vicar of Boston Spa, Richard Seed. Richard is now the Archdeacon here in York, but for 30 years he was also Chairman of Trustees at Martin House. It is in no small part thanks to his vision and enthusiasm that Martin House is now renowned nationally as one of the leading children’s hospices in the country.
When he lived as a Vicar in Oxfordshire, before coming to Boston Spa, Richard had been involved with Helen House, which was at that point the only children’s hospice in the country.
After a couple of years in Boston Spa, paediatricians in Leeds said they were keen to explore the possibility with Richard of having a children’s hospice in the North – because they felt that a hospital was not necessarily the best place for a terminally ill child to be.
When the Martin House appeal began in February 1982, it operated from a shoe shop in Boston Spa – but Martin House’s growth since then has been truly remarkable. Now around 500 children with terminal illness are cared for each year. From small acorns do mighty oaks grow!
In 1987, three children and their families were the first to be cared for – now, 25 years later, at any one time the hospice will be providing care for 340 children plus bereaved families.
Of course, Martin House’s roots are in the Church. There is an unbreakable and unshakable connection with the Church of England, which goes back to its inception and carries on to this day. I am proud to be Patron of such an amazing organisation.
I am always encouraged by the relentless enthusiasm and tireless contribution made by everyone involved at Martin House. Not just the fantastic people like Richard, but also the other volunteers, and of course the children and their families who are going through such tough times.
I am always struck by the positivity and joy that comes from everyone at Martin House. There’s a sense of happiness, despite the sadness of why the building is here. You have a wonderful sense of privacy, protection and comfort. A sense of family. A sense of belonging.
The aim of Martin House is to provide family led care for children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses. It is a place where children, young people and their families can come to stay from time to time along their journey and find support, rest and practical help.
It is a place of love and understanding, a peaceful place but one that can also have a lively, friendly atmosphere full of fun and laughter, where children and their families can enjoy the best quality of life.
In everything Martin House does, it places the family at the centre. It values each member of the family as individuals with their own needs. It is important to acknowledge and respect the expertise of the parents as the main carers of a sick child. We need to recognise the prime importance of listening to the children, young people and their families, but we also need to recognise our own responsibilities as a society.
In Africa we have a saying that “it takes the whole village to raise a child”. We should remember that saying when we look at Martin House Hospice. We need to give these families our care, support and love – they need to know they are not coping with these impossible situations on their own.
90 people work with Martin House – including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, care staff and therapists – who all do a wonderful job.
The money needed annually to provide this care and help for terminally ill children and their families has to come nearly entirely from private contributions. (Only 12% comes from statutory sources such as Primary Care Trusts.) As the hospice costs around £4.9m a year to run – that’s a lot of fundraising!
It’s a mammoth task and your help is needed if the work is to continue. I know times are tough for everyone, but you can make a real difference for these families.
In Yorkshire, we understand the importance of looking out for others and being a good neighbour. We know that it’s important to be there in the good times and in the bad times. We also know actions speak louder than words.
Please do consider giving your support to Martin House – you can call them on 01937 844569 or visit http://www.martinhouse.org.uk for more information.
Whatever you can afford, please do give. Your generosity can help Martin House continues caring for those in need today and tomorrow, and hopefully for the next 25 years too.