Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital
Our Behind the Blue Walls blog series looks at some of our interesting customers; from paramedics to fashion brands, our units contain fascinating back stories. We also like to focus on our charity partners from time to time and this week we’re looking at the Children’s Heart Unit Fund, or CHUF. They provide incredible support to children and young people born with (or who develop) heart conditions. Speaking to Christian Cerisola at CHUF HQ we discovered more about the work they do and how they provide support to families nationwide.
Where did it all begin?
The Children’s Heart Unit Fund was born from a charity called the Lesley Anne Scott Memorial Fund in 1983. Anne Scott started the charity in memory of her daughter Lesley Anne who was born with serious heart problems. When Anne retired as trustee in 1983, it was her wish that the charity be renamed the Children’s Heart Unit Fund. Since then, CHUF has steadily grown but in recent years a determination from its trustees and supporters has transformed the charity into one of the most prominent children’s charities in the UK.
CHUF works to support the dedicated and committed team on the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. A little over four years ago, CHUF had just one part time staff member based in a tiny room adjacent to the ward. It now has a permanent, five-strong team who oversee events, corporate partnerships, fundraising and administrative duties in its own dedicated offices just a mile from the hospital. This is all possible thanks to fundraising and the charity now raises over £1m a year in donations.
What services are available through your charity?
CHUF’s mission is to improve the lives of children and young people who are born with, or who develop, heart conditions by providing lifelong support for them and their families. Any funds raised go towards helping the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. As one of only two specialist centres in the UK, it treats patients from all over the UK. CHUF’s funds are spent on a range of medical and holistic improvements to the provision of care at the unit.
Funding makes it all possible
Through donations to CHUF the charity has helped fund a range of improvements to the provision of care for all who come into contact with the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital:
- It contributed £2m towards the construction of a new ‘home from home’ called Scott House. This is a dedicated accommodation block that allows families of those children being treated on the unit to stay close by while their children are undergoing treatment on the unit. CHUF has also been able to fund the provision of emergency overnight bags for families who arrive without the ability to pack anything themselves. These include basic clothing and toiletries.
- It has paid for, in its entirety, a brand new, fully equipped, state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor play facility on the ward which cost £330,000.
- It funds the visits of Clown Doctors, specially trained actors who make regular visits to the ward to entertain patients, alleviate boredom and interact with patients and their families to put a smile back on their faces what are stressful and worrying times.
- It has funded the installation of six new state-of-the-art ECG heart monitors.
- It has paid for therapy specialists who work closely with the children and their families post operation.
How can people find out more about the charity?
More information can be found on the charity’s website www.chuf.org.uk
, or on their Facebook (www.facebook.com/CHUFofficial
) and Twitter pages (www.twitter.com/chuffofficial