My First Week at Charlie House

Children with complex needs have always held a special place in my heart. As a junior doctor in the children’s hospital, I had the pleasure of caring for some remarkable children.

Children with complex needs have always held a special place in my heart.  As a junior doctor in the children’s hospital, I had the pleasure of caring for some remarkable children.  I remember my first meeting with one particular little boy and his family, he was still an infant but had medical notes bigger than most adults!  It wasn’t the array of medical problems that stuck with me that day, it was the pure love that his parents showered him with, and of course his cheeky little smile.  In both my medical career and as a carer for a child with exceptional healthcare needs in my spare time, I became aware of the lack of support and appropriate care facilities for this group of children. 

Having already transitioned from a medical career to one in the third sector, I knew that wherever I worked, I wanted to do something for this group of children.  After learning about the amazing work of Charlie House and a subsequent meeting with its’ inspirational Chair, Tracy Johnstone, I knew I had to work there. 

I have just finished my first week with the team at Charlie House, and I have loved every minute of it.  Tracy, Lynn and Donna have been so welcoming and it is abundantly clear how passionate they are about their work.  Although we are a relatively small charity, we are incredibly well supported by the local community.  Our office space was donated by the lovely Graeme and Lynne Reid of MAC Ltd, whose staff have welcomed me like one of the family.  Not only do they give us this office space free of charge, Graeme and Lynne, along with two other colleagues, are raising money for Charlie House by participating in the two day, 175 mile cycle challenge, Ride The North.  Their fundraising ideas have been fantastic, there were queues out of the door for Lynne’s homemade meatball lunch yesterday, which was delicious!

I had the pleasure of meeting the “Big Build Appeal” team on Wednesday, a smorgasbord of professionals at the top of their relative fields, who have donated their time and expertise to helping us create our specialist care centre.  With their help, we have detailed plans with full costings, to enable us to get out and raise the funds needed to build and operate this facility.

Recognising that local children were in need of support in the short-term, Charlie House started a monthly Saturday Club and for the first time in 2014 provided a residential activity short break. The charity also provides families with information and support available with other local and national services.  I am really looking forward to getting to know families and extending our Saturday club for siblings, carers and different age groups. 

Although it has been extremely busy, I have enjoyed my first week tremendously.  I am incredibly excited about working with the staff, volunteers, Board, ambassadors and wider Charlie House community to deliver a much-needed facility for local children with life-limiting and life-shortening conditions.  Life is precious, and these children deserve every opportunity to live a full and happy life.

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