At Benefex we know how important it is to give something back, which is why we regularly donate to our chosen charity, Naomi House - a hospice providing expert care to more than 280 children.
We were lucky enough to be offered the chance to pay them a visit recently, following an amazing £4 million refurbishment. It was an eye opener to the real impact and importance of our ongoing support for the charity…
I'm not sure what we expected, but when we arrived on site, we were surprised by how green and open the grounds are. There was a real feeling of peacefulness and we could already see how a respite visit here could provide a much needed break for families and children with life-limiting disabilities.
The tour started with the Butterfly Suite, which was an emotional way to kick off the visit. Also known as the ‘end of life’ suite, it seemed more like a family home than some rooms in a hospice, and felt like a place that a family could really feel at peace in their final days together. The support that the charity has received for this refurbishment has allowed them to install a whole range of state of the art technology, including a cooling system in the bedroom of this suite to give families as much time as they need to say goodbye when their child has passed away.
Leaving the suite feeling a little choked up, we moved on to see the other children's bedrooms used for breaks away at Naomi House. The attention to detail to create a real home-from-home was overwhelming. From ‘Frozen’ bed covers to superhero posters, they've made an environment that any child can just enjoy being a child. And with different beds to accommodate different needs, state of the art ventilation systems, hoists and every type of medical equipment they could ever need, we could see how a trip here would give parents a chance to focus on spending time together as a family, without having to be concerned for their child's needs.
The stand-out parts of the tour for us included the Sensory Room and the outdoor play area. The Sensory Room was a joy to be in as an adult, so we can only imagine how much fun it must be for children visiting Naomi House! Speakers played out the sound of birdsong, as projections of autumn leaves circled the walls. The floor had an interactive projection of a lily pond which rippled when you walked on it. There were colourful lights at every turn and even a ball-pit! Just imagining the happiness that this room will bring to children and families on respite breaks filled our hearts to bursting!
The outdoor play area's main feature was ‘The Jolly Jack’ – A completely wheelchair accessible pirate ship. What seem like such small changes like adding ramps and lowering fences, will allow children to play and imagine and adventure like a pirate, no matter the severity of their disability. We can only imagine how uplifting it must be for a parent to have to opportunity to see their child play in an environment that would usually be inaccessible to them.
Some of the changes to Naomi House that our tour guide, Tina, seemed most excited about were things that we thought they would have had before the refurbishment. Having not undergone any major changes in the 18 years that they have been open, they had never had an allocated kitchen for preparing meals for children with special eating requirements. Nor had there ever been somewhere to charge wheelchairs, or bathrooms with enough room for carers and families to share bath time with their children, or even a lift to the second floor where parents sleep when they visit. Things that seem like basic requirements for somewhere like Naomi House have only been made possible by the generosity and support that is so vital to keep this amazing charity going.
We hope that in reading this you might have got an idea of how much it means to keep donating to Naomi House – The environment they have created really is incredible and means so much to families and children with life-limiting disabilities. The opportunity to take a break from everyday life and spend quality time together is invaluable to those that are living with these challenges and will only continue to be possible as long as people like us keep offering our support.
For our next Naomi House fundraiser here at Benefex, we'll be rolling out of bed and into work for Pyjama Friday on October 9th. So if you're visiting the office that day then pull on your PJ's and help us to dig deep so we can keep making a difference, because it really does make a difference.