Donna Louise Children’s Hospice

Donna Louise Children’s Hospice

A grant from Wallace & Gromit's Children's Charity enabled The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice trust to set up The Parent Led Befriending Service. Befrienders offer support to other parents of children with life-limiting conditions.

Tracey Simpson is a regular visitor to the Hospice with her son William. She now acts as a befriender and juggles family life with caring for William, who has a heart condition.

She says: "It can be very daunting for a new family coming to the Hospice as there are such strong ideas about what the place is like, especially for people who have never been in a hospice before. As a befriender, I help put mums and dads at ease. I can share my experience of what the hospice is like day-to-day and I also understand the challenges of looking after a poorly child. Taking part in the scheme and doing the training has given me confidence to help someone who wants to talk, and how to listen, and not just at the Hospice, but also when I’m out and about."

Tracey has been supporting Sarah O'Sullivan through the Befriending Service and they meet up regularly for coffee. Sarah says: "Tracey stayed with me on the first day I came to the Hospice and it was amazing to have that support because it is incredibly hard accepting that your child is ill enough for hospice care.

"The Befriending Service is extra special because I can talk to someone who not only understands what I am going through, but they have also experienced it themselves. When my son Daniel was born, my friends couldn't understand what it was like trying to look after him. He wasn't expected to live, but he has now celebrated his second birthday.

"It's fantastic to know that Tracey is just a phone call away. When Daniel recently had some surgery, I spent four hours on the phone just talking through the operation and Tracey was there to listen and also gave me real practical help and support."