Many of the children we support are clinically extremely vulnerable, so whilst most restrictions in England have ended, we’re continuing with infection control measures to safeguard those we care for.

Whilst ensuring this, we are slowly beginning to hold some events in our hospice gardens, holding a memory tree day and our first face to face Chill & Chat group since the start of the pandemic.

Caring for a child with a life-limiting condition can often feel very isolating, so our Chill & Chat groups aim, is to connect us and other parents – something which was all the more important over lockdown. Held virtually over the past 16 months, this July we were able to hold our first face to face Chill & Chat in the garden of our Guildford based hospice, Christopher’s.

Here families came together, giving them the opportunity to discuss any worries or anxieties, celebrate what is going well and simply be able catch up and enjoy each other’s company.

Paige Bale, Family Support Worker at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices said, “Children were able to have fun playing in a wide-open space and discovering our new equipment in the garden, while parents enjoyed a selection of cakes and drinks, and a chance to catch up in person in the sunshine.”

Also in July, we held a memory tree day at both hospices. After a child has died, their family is invited to hang a leaf or star, which is engraved with their child’s name and age, on one of our memory tree sculpture’s at each hospice.

Families who attended the day at Shooting Star House, shared with us how much these visits mean to them.

Visiting Shooting Star was so very special. It was Dylan-James’ little brother Elliott first visit to see the Memory Tree. We sang ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ by the memory tree to Dylan-James and all the children’s stars. We looked at Dylan-James’ page in the memory book together. Geraldine, Sonya and Julie took such care of us. They even took Elliott off and entertained him with bubbles so I could have some special alone time with the Memory tree and book. Thank you very much for making this possible especially in light of the pandemic. It was such a special time of reflection in memory of our beautiful Dylan-James who we miss so very much.”

“From the moment we arrived until we left both yourself and your colleague made us feel so welcome as though we were family members. Absolutely brilliant and lovely. I must admit you both made us feel so comfortable. We were a bit nervous last year as we didn’t know what to expect however, this year went just as smoothly as it did last year.”

Families we support in this way tell us that it is so important to have a quiet place they can remember their child and coming to see the leaf or star over the years gives them great comfort.

With your support we can continue to provide these groups and events, and all our other services, for children and their families that need us, now and the future. You can donate here.

Read more about the services we provide to families across Surrey and London.