Children in Hospital Appeal
A feature of Club meetings, which always has particular interest for visitors, is the Montgomery Silver Rose Bowl presented in 1934 by the family of Harford H. Montgomery—the second President of the Club—as a memorial to him. At each meeting it was filled by one of the members with flowers, which were afterwards sent to a hospital or to a member or his wife who was ill.
In 1993 the Club Council took a decision to introduce a special fund which was to be used to make life easier for children in hospital in the Belfast area or in special care units with close ties to hospitals. The fund would be called Children in Hospital Appeal.
Council took this decision as, invariably in practice, hospital staff did not have the time to arrange the donated flowers in vases and in some wards they were not allowed at all. It was therefore decided that when each member was asked to contribute, they would be given the choice of sending flowers or making a donation to the Children in Hospital Appeal.
During the first year of the new system, half of the money was donated to the Appeal. Since then the amount donated has averaged round 90%. Contributions are channelled through our charitable Trust Fund to enable us to reclaim VAT. However members are reminded that when there is an appropriate recipient for flowers, they should choose that option.
It is difficult to explain just how much these things mean to the children in hospital. The money raised for Children in Hospital has been carefully targeted at areas where it really does “make a difference.”
In August 2013 Musgrave Park Children's Physiotherapy Unit received specialised exercise equipment. Some of the Children the physiotherapy Unit treats have, because of leg injuries, to spend an elongated time in bed and the physiotherapists find them unwilling to exercise. So the physiotherapists requested, to encourage them, special brightly coloured tricycles and a go-kart with full body supports and straps.
The most striking thing we have found is that while the hospitals are almost always excellent in providing purely medical care, they sometimes seem to overlook the more personal problems. They seem to be able to spend millions of pounds in certain areas but struggle and delay to find small amounts in others.
In 2012 the "Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Foster Green Hospital" – known for short as Beechcroft asked us for an X Box 360.
Opened in September 2010, the Unit provides specialist inpatient services for children and young people with mental health problems providing a therapeutic environment centred both on the young person and their family and promoting and enabling a better understanding of how young people, with mental health problems, can be successfully treated and returned to living in the community.
The young people in the unit are inclined to spend a lot of time on their own and the members of staff are keen to encourage them to play electronic games. We were able to supply two units complete with software. The picture shows Jackie Wilson, Ward Manager, and PP Brian Ferguson with the XBoxes after the presentation.
The manager in her thank-you letter said: "The young people of Beechcroft will get great pleasure from your gifts and hopefully will be aided in their recovery to good health". Many thanks again from all the staff and young people of Beechcroft."
|The photograph above shows a very cheerful group of children's Trauma Unit staff members Ulster Hospital headed up by Audrey Moorhead, being presented with the DVD players and posters by PP Brian Ferguson.|
Another example of this was the request from the Children’s Trauma Unit in the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald September 2011. As usual they asked for something a bit different! This time it was a very interesting and comprehensive range of children’s posters and pictures of everything from Disney characters to animal world maps.
Research has shown that when the children are in the various waiting areas before going in for check ups or operations, they are extremely nervous. While it is possible to give them medication at this stage, it is preferable to keep them calm by asking them questions about the pictures which will now cover all the walls and ceilings!
The unit also asked for two portable DVD players for children who are confined to bed for lengthy periods following serious accidents.
In December 2011 we had a request from Mitchell House for i-pads which are very much a part of the ICT provision within the school and are of particular relevance to the children who are confined to wheelchairs. Unfortunately the school’s request to the Belfast Education & Library Board was turned down and so we were able to step in with a donation of £880 which bought two good i-pads complete with cases, educational software and insurance. The headmistress wrote to thank us: “It is brilliant to be able to improve skills with the latest technology”.
|Photograph shows a nurse in Tor Bank (with fun face-paint) showing a boy how to use a previously donated push light switch.|
Another example was our Wii donation to Tor Bank School at the Ulster Hospital. Many of the children there cannot play the games that children love to play. Fortunately computers have come to the rescue and now enable children, when using a Wii Console, to literally ‘play’ games such as electronic tennis by controlling the “ball” from a hand held device. This technology really does give the participants the sensation of playing in a real game. These systems are extremely sophisticated and are not cheap. The Wii Fit Plus Console and Board together with a Visual Sensory Kit cost us £447 but if you have any doubt about value for money, you need only to see the children’s faces when they play on it.
At the other end of the technology scale we were also asked for a rocking chair! The chair was for use in the quiet room where children are taken when they get over excited. Staff were advised that a rocking chair was effective as part of the calming process. An anonymous donor kindly provided the chair.
We express our very sincere thanks to all our members and hope that we can continue this work for many years.
|Other donations include|
|Table and handheld games for Child and Family Unit Forster Green Hospital
||Special exercise bicycle which can adjust to special slow speeds for the Physiotherapy Unit Musgrave Park||Donation to Heartbeat NI contributing to their funding of an MRI Scanner for the Children's Hospital|