A local charity which provides care for terminally ill children within the home is celebrating this week after winning a grant of £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s People’s Project.
Jessie May, which supports families in Bristol, Bath, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, has thanked the public for support in their bid to win the cash.
The money will go towards expanding support for the siblings of terminally ill children within Jessie May’s care, including respite breaks and bereavement support, as part of the ‘Hidden from View but not Forgotten’ campaign.
Julian Withers, head of fundraising at Jessie May, said: “As a small local charity this amount of money is a huge deal for us and none of the team can quite believe we’ve actually won!
“We’re thrilled people have taken this campaign into their hearts and that it has transferred into votes which will ultimately benefit our families.
“I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everybody that voted for us. The People’s Project works on a public vote system over a two-week period so it was quite nerve-wracking not knowing how we were getting on.
“There was no need to worry though as our partners, suppliers, corporate sponsors, the families we care for, local businesses and members of the public got behind us and helped us to achieve our goal.
“The Young Carers we support are incredibly inspirational, often putting their own wants and needs aside as they help their parents care for their sibling with very complex needs.
“The carers are just children themselves, which is why we wanted to secure this money to expand the support we give them with vital respite breaks, meaning they can enjoy fun outings or simply spend quality time alone with mum and dad.”
Since it was founded in 1994, Jessie May has cared for over 260 children within their own homes at a cost of around £1,000,000 a year.
Jessie May currently has a caseload of 99 children who are not expected to make it to adulthood and help 122 siblings who act as young carers.
Having recently expanded its services into Wiltshire, the grant will enable the charity to double this number to 244 young people.
One family that understands the importance of respite breaks is the Badmans, who featured in the People’s Project video.
Mum Ann Marie, dad Lee and 8-year-old sister Nisha help to care for 5-year-old Kayla who has been diagnosed with an atypical form of Rett Syndrome and Epilepsy.
Julian continued: “The Badmans featured on a large part of our campaign material for this project so I would like to say a special thank you to them for sharing their story and making a difference.
“Nisha is the perfect example of a loving sibling who often puts her sister’s needs before her own. Although she may not have the same home life as her friends, she never complains and she treasures the times she is able to spend with her mum and dad while Jessie May cares for Kayla.
“We can’t wait to put this money into effect and continue our work with families who need us.”