I visited Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) hospice - Robin House - in Balloch recently.
The hospice cares for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions, and I'm backing the charity’s bid to reach every family in Scotland who needs their help.
Chief Executive Maria McGill recently launched their Keep the Joy Alive campaign at Parliament where MSP’s spelled out their names on postcards - with letters specially designed by the children cared for by CHAS, known as the CHAS alphabet - in support of the launch.
I think most people’s perception of a hospice is where you come for end of life care.
After meeting Maria at Parliament, I soon found out this was far from the case at Robin House or Rachel House in Kinross, or CHAS at Home, the charities at home care service.
Maria explained that CHAS’s goal is to be there for every family in Scotland who needs their help and invited me to see first-hand the work that is done at Robin House to achieve this.
The aim of the hospice is to support the whole family by offering short planned breaks, emergency support, end of life care and bereavement support.
Robin House has the ability to accommodate eight children or young people and their families at any one time with most staying for just a short break. This gives the whole family some respite from the day to day struggles of caring with a child with a life-shortening condition.
The whole building is fantastic and has been designed to offer the best of care in a safe and tranquil environment. The children’s rooms look nothing like a hospital ward and more like their bedroom at home and they all have a view of the wonderful gardens.
The facilities are also designed to be all-inclusive with an easy access swimming pool and a swing park that is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
The teenagers are not forgotten as they can hang out in “The Den” to get away from it all if they wish to mix with people their own age.
I was also shown the handiwork of inmates at Shotts prison - by Sue Hogg the Director of Children and Families - whom along with their guards have created play houses, a large pirate ship and even a formula one racing car.
I also viewed the new Hogwarts themed castle that was having the finishing touches put to it by local craftsmen which was already getting the seal of approval from the youngsters watching over its construction.
Maria and Sue told one of the primary goals for CHAS is to help families build memories. I for one will have a lasting memory of this wonderful place and also the staff and volunteers who are a real credit to CHAS.