Writing

House for Families of Sick Children Opens in Southampton

Around 600 families are to benefit from a new house at Southampton General Hospital each year.

The house, funded by the Ronald McDonald House Charity, is scheduled to open for the families of children who receive treatment at Southampton General Hospital in early December.

The house caters for all members of the families it serves with themed bedrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and numerous communal living spaces.

Leigh Broughton, Southampton House’s Deputy House Manager said: “You hear stories of families sleeping in cars or having to give up their jobs. That’s the need.”

Each bedroom has an en-suite and direct telephone link to their child’s ward.

The thirteen Ronald McDonald Houses across the country are always full, and have waiting lists, according to Mr Broughton.

Families are accepted based on need and are able to stay as long as necessary, the longest stay being two years.

Families who don’t stay have access to the communal areas to have a break from the ward, relax or have a meal together.

The house cost £7m to build and requires £500,000 per year to run, with one night’s stay for a family costing £25.

The McDonald’s chain is the greatest supporter of the independent, self-supporting Ronald McDonald House Charity, with local stores each aiming to raise £1000 per year towards Southampton House’s running costs.

Although the house currently has 53 bedrooms over four floors, the fifth floor will be renovated when funding is available, adding another 17 bedrooms.

Mr Broughton commented: “We have to raise all that money ourselves. We can’t do it without the families that fundraise for us, the volunteers, and the donations.”

Jane Cowen and Lee White stayed for three weeks after new-born, Lydia, underwent two heart surgeries to treat Pulmonary Valve Stenosis, 90 miles from their home in Sheffield.

Jane said: “Ronald McDonald House Birmingham was an absolute godsend at a horrendous time. But it was more than that… we found it so comforting to talk to families who were going through the same thing as us.”

To donate or get a fundraising pack, please contact Rachel Wells at rachel.wells@uk.mcd.com.

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