£2.2m funding gap at Martin House Hospice – which cares for York children

A HOSPICE which looks after children from across York and North Yorkshire is facing a £2.2 million income gap after fundraising was hit by the pandemic.

Martin House Hospice at Boston Spa, which cares for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions and costs almost £9 million a year to run, has launched a special Christmas appeal to try to plug the gap.

Interim chief executive Clair Holdsworth said 2020 had been “very challenging” and Martin House had had to be resilient and adaptable to ensure it could keep giving vital support to children, young people and their families.

She was confident it would continue to be there for families for years to come but said the majority of its income relied on fundraising and voluntary donations, which had been hit by the pandemic.

“We need the help of our supporters more than ever, which is why we have launched our Make Every Christmas Count appeal, so we can raise the money we need to provide this vital support,” she said.

“This year has taught us all how fragile life is – but that is something felt every day in the lives of our families. That’s why, after such a challenging year, they need our support more than ever, and we want to make sure that we make Christmas count for them.

“We need to be here for families throughout Christmas, whether they need the reassurance of a phone call or if they need to come to the hospice. We can only do that with the support of people in our community.”

Sarah and Matt, the parents of eight-year-old Felix Williams, who has an undiagnosed, life-shortening condition, have told of the hospice’s importance.

Sarah said: “When we celebrate Christmas as a family, we can’t help but wonder if it will be Felix’s last. That’s why Christmas at Martin House is so wonderful. Felix adores seeing Santa, and even my girls, Amelie and Kitty, who’ve had to grow up so quickly, get caught up in the magic of it all.

“Martin House Christmas parties, visits from farm animals and watching the Martin House nativity have given us so many happy memories to look back on. This Christmas will undoubtedly be quite different to other years at Martin House, but I know the staff will do their very best for the children. It’s also incredibly reassuring to know that if we’re worried about Felix for any reason over Christmas, they will be there for us 24/7.

“Felix is the happiest person you’d ever meet, and he loves every day, but I can’t pretend that there haven’t been some dark times. Thanks to Martin House, we’ve never had to go through them alone.”

To support Martin House this Christmas, visit www.martinhouse.org.uk/everychristmascounts.

Meanwhile, St Leonard’s Hospice in York said that while its income had been affected by the pandemic and ever-changing Government restrictions, it remained “financially robust… largely due to the overwhelming support of local people, especially over the last six months”.

It added: “Our focus is continuing to provide the best quality of care and support to both patients and their families, but we can only achieve this thanks to the continued support and generosity of people across the area.”

York Press | News