HoH Campaign: Can you help our hospice?

TODAY we launch our Help Our Hospice (HoH) campaign to raise funds and increase awareness about the difficult future facing the Milton Children s Hospice. The facility is one of three children s hospices in East Anglia that provides expert care for termi

TODAY we launch our Help Our Hospice (HoH) campaign to raise funds and increase awareness about the difficult future facing the Milton Children's Hospice.

The facility is one of three children's hospices in East Anglia that provides expert care for terminally-ill children.

Many of our readers will surely be surprised to learn that children's hospices like Milton only receive a fraction of their income from Government funding. On average, it's between eight and 10 per cent. That means the shortfall has to be made up from generous public donations and fund-raising.

Without that generosity it would not be possible for the Milton Children's Hospice to continue to care for life-limited children and support their parents and families through some of their darkest days.

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The Ely Standard believes this lack of funding is scandalous and we want you, our readers, to help us do something to address this appalling funding anomaly.

Health minister Liam Byrne has said he will look closely at increasing funding in the future. But that's just not good enough. With your help, we can put pressure on the Government to make a much firmer commitment to addressing this issue and recognise sick children and their families as a funding priority.

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In the next financial year it will cost £4.7 million to run the three children's hospices in East Anglia. In 2000, the Government earmarked £48 million of Lottery funding for children's palliative care, but that cash runs out in March. For the Milton hospice it means a shortfall of more than £200,000 to make up in the next 12 months. The East Anglian Children's Hospices charity, EACH, that runs the facility has already had to make cuts, which includes making some care staff redundant.

The Ely Standard is launching the HoH campaign by making a £750 donation from our Grand Plan fund and MP's Jim Paice and Malcolm Moss have offered their support. We have also launched a petition asking for more funding for children's hospices, which we will send to Tony Blair and Liam Byrne.

We know from experience that the Cambridgeshire area is full of compassionate people who are prepared to organise fund-raising events and dig deep in their own pockets to help worthwhile causes and we are sure that you will want to help. But the hospice needs a long-term guarantee of increased funding in order to safeguard its future. Children facing pain and an early death should not have to rely so heavily on the goodwill of the public - however willingly that help is given. The hard-working and dedicated staff who care for them should not have to be worrying about their future job prospects. Sick children and their families deserve better. Sadly, about 10 children will die at the Milton hospice this year. Is it fair that their parents and care workers should be forced to survive another funding crisis?

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