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Liverpool mum is face of UK campaign calling on next government to protect hospice funding

3 weeks ago

Liverpool mum is face of UK campaign calling on next government to protect hospice funding
Karina, Jason and their family

A Liverpool mum has become the face of a UK-wide campaign calling on the next government to protect vital hospice funding.

Mum-of-four Karina Timson, who has two disabled sons, is heading up the appeal by Together for Short Lives – the UK’s leading charity for children’s palliative care – asking whoever is next in power after the General Election to ‘act immediately’.

The charity, which works to help families like Karina’s make the most of every moment of the short time they have with their children, says:

“Children’s hospices deliver lifeline care to seriously ill children and their families, but rising costs of care, increased demand and inconsistent funding mean children’s hospices are increasingly dependent on donations to fund much of this lifeline care.”

In its Short Lives Can’t Wait campaign it’s asking people to sign a letter to the next government, urging them to act immediately protect the ringfenced funding the government and NHS England have provided to children’s hospices for the past 18 years. It says unless it does, vital services, like short breaks for respite, end of life and hospice at home care, will be cut.

“Despite the funding now being worth £25 million and accounting for around £1 in every £6 of children’s hospices’ charitable spending, it is yet to be confirmed whether it will continue beyond 2024/25,” it says. “Clearly this sticking plaster approach to children’s hospice funding is not working and cannot continue.”

Karina, 43, from Widnes which is part of the Liverpool City Region, says:

“It’s so important that this funding continues to help support the hospices and families like ours.

“And I would urge people to sign the letter to the next government to ask them to act straight away to protect that funding.”

She and partner Jason Watkins, a 52-year-old Asda delivery driver, rely on the support they get from Claire House Children’s Hospice in Wirral.

“We would be totally lost without Claire House.

“We’d go back to being tired, not being parents, just being carers. That’s not a life for us and not a life for the children to be honest.

“That’s why I, and my family, became involved in the campaign, so that people can see just what hospices do for people like us, and how much they help.  Without Claire House we would struggle.”

Corey , mum and dad
Corey , mum and dad

Jason adds:

“Claire House doesn’t just support the boys, it helps the girls and us as a family.”

The couple’s eldest child, Corey, 14, was born prematurely at 25 weeks and weighing just 1lb 14ozs. 

He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 18-months old but, even when sister Georgie, who’s 12, was born, they were able to cope.

That changed when their third child Parker, 11, came along. After a perfect pregnancy, Karina went into labour and her uterus ruptured, and Parker was born unresponsive and not breathing.  Like his older brother, he needs round-the-clock care and full assistance, and is non-verbal.

Having one disabled son had already turned Karina and Jason from first-time parents into full-time carers. Having a second disabled child was more than they could manage alone.

The family reached out to Claire House after speaking to their community nurse. As well as support and respite care for Parker and Corey, who’s health has sadly started to deteriorate, the family – which also includes sister Lottie, seven – attend sibling events and the golf dads’ group. 

Karina says it was after Parker was born with complex medical needs and needing round-the-clock care like Corey, that they realised they could no longer cope on their own.

“You become a nurse. You go from being a mum to a carer and there is no time to just be a mum again. We weren’t getting any sleep – we would argue over who had the most sleep…

“The boys now stay over at Claire House and during their first stay we stayed with them. It was great because we could go downstairs to see the boys having fun and then go back upstairs, and we could enjoy time with our children without having to worry about medication being on time, feeds being done, their pads changing, or their movement.

“I got to smile with my children again. I got to enjoy playing games and being with them as a parent not a carer. It was lovely.

“Corey and Parker both love it when they go to Claire House. Parker thinks he’s going on holiday.”

Jason continues: “Having Claire House’s support has meant we’ve been able to spend time with Georgie and Lottie – and get some much-needed rest.”

Karina says: “Support like this for us, and others like us, is so desperately needed. Please sign the letter to save this funding so families like us can be families, and hospices like Claire House are helped to support us. The care we get from Claire House is second to none.”

Find out more about Together for Short Lives here.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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