Lockdown has dramatically changed everyone’s lives, but Camp Simcha’s mission, to bring vital practical and therapeutic support to families with a seriously ill child, remains unwavering.
Practical services, such as hospital transports, crisis meals and night-time respite care, have continued, albeit with extra safety precautions.
While face-to-face visits and outings clearly cannot take place at the moment, Camp Simcha has been working overtime to maintain a high level of support for families over the phone and using virtual communications, while sending in a steady stream of fun activities for the children.
Head of services Daniel Gillis explains: “Our families need the continuity of our support more than ever. Their ill children are very vulnerable, so parents are understandably terrified. Juggling family life when all your well children are at home, with caring for a seriously ill child when much of your support has fallen way, is overwhelming and exhausting.
“We are now running up to 50 weekly virtual therapeutic arts-at-home sessions. Families have fed back how much of a boost this is to the children, while bringing a much-needed break for them.
“We are also providing counselling, tutoring and lending of equipment such as iPads and laptops. Our family liaison officers have established virtual support groups to help counteract the sense of isolation many parents feel, while our new online parent portal gives them access to exercise videos, advice and family activities.”
In addition, Camp Simcha has already sent families more than 1,200 creative toys, games and crafts, including seed and herb garden kits, while organising entertainers, concerts and a weekly challenge event for families, from treasure hunts to bake-offs.
“You cannot imagine what all this means to families,” says Daniel. “But this message from one of our mums says it all: “Thank you so much for the big parcel with all the games and toys you sent us. My kids love it and are so busy playing with the Knex… Thank you thank you…I don’t have enough words to thank you. But thank you for just being here for us. It’s exactly what my kids and we all needed now.”