A Derbyshire hospice has been making sure that grieving youngsters remain supported during the coronavirus pandemic, by delivering care packages of books, toiletries, chocolates and felt tip pens.

These thoughtful parcels have then been hand-delivered by members of the Therapeutic Services Team at Treetops Hospice Care, in Risley, to children – some as young as seven – who would normally access the services provided by Treetops, free of charge.

A way of being able to keep some connection with them during this difficult time

Jules Kirk, Therapeutic Services Manager and Head of Children’s Services, said:

“The children and young people who have received one of our care packages are all between the ages of 7 and 15, and have recently lost a loved one; a parent, carer or sibling.

“We initially decided to send these packages to the youngest children we have on our books here at Treetops; those who are too young to access our free counselling sessions via social media platforms such as Zoom, as a way of being able to keep some connection with them during this difficult time.

A range of therapeutic activities, social, fun and self-care activities, as well as ideas to help them relieve the boredom

“Each package contained a range of therapeutic activities, social, fun and self-care activities, as well as ideas to help them relieve the boredom. We also added an Easter egg, felt tip pens, books and toiletries. We were, in the end, fortunate enough to be able to gather material to create care packages for everyone on our books and, as you can imagine, these packages have been very well received.”

More than 50 care packages, which also contained some useful advice for parents on how to help their child through such a difficult time, have been delivered in and around Derbyshire and, should funding be granted, there are plans to deliver more.

Many have experienced traumatic grief and this is our way of letting them know that we’re thinking about them

“It has helped the children and young people to keep a connection to Treetops at a time when we’re all having to keep our distance,” added Jules Kirk, “many have experienced traumatic grief and this is our way of letting them know that we’re thinking about them.”

It made me smile

One of the recipients of the packages said:

“The gift was so very thoughtful and considerate and I really appreciated it. It made me smile. I love my toothbrush in particular, as my dad always buys me the really soft ones, so we all had a good laugh.”

As well as providing respite care for those with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, neurological conditions and heart and respiratory conditions, Treetops also supports their carers and families by offering counselling.

It is a completely free service and is available to all users of Treetops Hospice Care services and people registered with a GP practice in Derby city and Southern Derbyshire.

Treetops Hospice costs £4.3m every year to run and the charity is expecting a £1.4m loss for the year, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In March, Treetops also launched its ‘Cake and Care’ initiative for those patients who are vulnerable and had been advised to self-isolate by the Government. With staff no longer preparing meals on site for patients, the kitchen was turned into a cake-making enterprise with tasty treats delivered to those in need, along with messages of support, craft activities, puzzles and other useful resources.

The scheme, which has just received a £20,000-plus grant from Foundation Derbyshire, provides packages to more than 80 patients self-isolating in their own homes.