Children’s charity The Joshua Tree has boosted its fundraising and family support team as it gears up for another busy year of support for North West families affected by childhood cancer.
The Joshua Tree charity based in Northwich was founded by parents Lynda and David Hill after their son was diagnosed with leukaemia during his first term at primary school. They discovered a lack of support services for all family members during the traumatic experience of childhood cancer and decided to establish a charity to provide other families with a support lifeline.
The charity currently supports around 100 families affected by childhood cancers across the North West and has recently launched a service for families living in North Wales. The Joshua Tree support service includes practical and emotional support such as counselling, art and play therapy, health and wellbeing, support in and around the home and educational support during and post-treatment. All family members including siblings and grandparents can access the 24/7 free support service from The Joshua Tree.
As a result in the growth the charity has also developed the Family Support Team and recruited local staff with Sally Shakeshaft as operations manager for family support and Marie Moss as family support co-ordinator. The small fundraising team has been boosted with the appointment of Fran Wilson as community and events co-ordinator who will be helping supporters and challengers with the many fundraising events held through the year.
Family support manager Rachael Birdsey said: “We delivered over 2,000 support sessions in 2017 to families who access our services. These sessions have included tutoring, play and art therapy sessions, carer breaks, health and fitness and counselling, including bereavement counselling. We are also working with new families in North Wales who have accessed our family support team and we’re hoping to develop this initiative early in 2018.
“As well as individual sessions, we’ve held our regular Saturday Sessions at the end of each month and we’ve learned how to hip hop, have fun with science, handle unusual creatures and share experiences together – offering peer to peer family support.”
To meet the growing demands of The Joshua Tree’s families in 2018 the small charity has grown to 11 part-time members of staff – including the founder and CEO Lynda Hill. The Joshua Tree will start construction of its new multi-purpose support centre in Sandiway, Northwich, in the coming months and aims to open its doors to many more new families at the end of the year.
Rachael added: “We’re on hand for families at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool every Monday now and, as a result, we’re receiving around three new family referrals a week so we’ve had to ensure that the team is able to be there for our families when they need us and for as long as they need us. Of course, the vital support we offer is completely free of charge so we also need to ensure that we continue to receive the generous support of our local community to deliver this.”
To find out more about The Joshua Tree please visit www.thejoshuatree.org.uk .