AS ANOTHER Christmas approaches, the devoted family of seriously ill Paige once again wonder if this will be the last they will spend with their much-loved child.
Sixteen-year-old Paige was born with West Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. She suffers seizures every day and, with other complex health issues, needs a constant supply of oxygen for her round-the-clock care at home.
Her family, which has been supported by Wirral’s Claire House children’s hospice since she was a baby, is just one of many now incurring excessively high energy costs so they can keep their children’s life-saving equipment running.
And it’s why the Russell Taylor Group Christmas Campaign is so important as it puts families first with its aim to raise £50,000 to be shared between Claire House and The Hive youth zone in Birkenhead.
Chief executive Ben Russell is calling upon the Burton Manor-headquartered recruitment business’ network of partners, professional colleagues and friends to join the campaign so families are not forced into “thinking the unthinkable” when it comes to making important choices at this time of the year.
While some Claire House families looking after a very sick child at home are having to give up work to provide 24-hour care, many of the 3,000 young people using The Hive and its groundbreaking youth facilities are drawn from an area where one in three live in poverty and may go without a present, food or a warm bed this Christmas.
Ben said: “On hearing how hard the cost of living crisis is hitting the families both charities support, we decided we had to do something and are hoping we can call on our friends and our professional networks to help too.
“Far too many families faced with financial pressures will have to think the unthinkable when it comes to making important choices surrounding their children this Christmas.
“They are already having a tough time and we’re hoping our support will make things a little easier for them so they can enjoy a well-deserved festive season with fewer worries.”
Paige’s family were introduced to Claire House soon after she was born and she still goes there for respite care.
Mum Stacey said: “Hearing laughter and the ripping of wrapping paper on Christmas Day always fills us with joy - it’s a sound we never take for granted because we don’t know how many Christmases we’ve got left with Paige.
“Heartbreakingly, we were told she may not live past her first birthday. She’s 16 now so it’s a real blessing to have enjoyed so many of these happy times together.”
Paige has a younger sister, Poppy, aged six, who unwraps all her presents for her and tells her what Father Christmas has brought.
Stacey added: “When I see Poppy’s little face light up as she opens her poorly big sister’s presents for her, I soak in every moment. Paige can’t walk or talk but Poppy wants to include her in everything she does, especially all the fun at Christmas.
“The girls have been to Christmas parties at Claire House where Poppy can have a great time with other siblings in a similar situation. It’s difficult having a child with a life-limiting disability but Claire House brings great happiness to families like ours.
“Paige has also had respite care there between Christmas and New Year. It’s a nice, homely environment for her and it gives us a much-needed break from being on constant call.”
Ben Russell is appealing to businesses, as a guide, to consider donating £1,000 to the Christmas Campaign. This could pay for 24 hours of nursing care at Claire House, making sure specialist staff are there for families who need them, or could fund a full course of counselling for a mother and father who have lost their child.
The same amount could provide one week’s worth of hot food for all young people at The Hive during the Christmas holiday - possibly the only hot meal they may get that week.