“The Jewish festivals can be a difficult time for Camp Simcha families because they are juggling the demands and restrictions of their child’s illness with the desire to celebrate the holidays in the ‘normal’ way,” said the charity’s head of services, Daniel Gillis.
“Due to COVID-19, we all came into the festivals missing that sense of community that we would usually have, but for those with very vulnerable, sick children, it felt even more isolating.”
In the run-up to Rosh Hashanah, Camp Simcha volunteers helped pack and deliver boxes full of treats, toys and crafts to families in Manchester. The seriously ill children and their siblings the charity supports were also kept busy with virtual cake-baking activities in the days around the festivals. Over Sukkot the charity organised COVID-safe individual outings for families in Manchester and Gateshead to Blackpool Zoo, farms and quad-biking parks.
“The trips have been a real boost and a chance for families to spend happy, carefree time together, making joyful memories despite all they go through in their day to day – with everything organised and catered for by us,” said Daniel. “We have had some wonderful feedback from families we support.”
Camp Simcha parent Rivka Stern from Prestwich, whose four-year-old son Ari has a serious heart condition, spent a day out at Smithills Open Farm with the whole family, including Ari, her husband Yehuda, daughters Zehava, Penina and Aviva, and their newest arrival Davidi, who is just five weeks old.
“Ari’s condition impacts his immunity levels, so COVID-19 has been very worrying and we have all had to be extra careful,” explained Rivka. “The children didn’t go back to school in the summer, when their friends did, and we have not been on a day out since March. When restrictions lifted, we all carried on shielding.
“To spend a day together having fun as a family, with everything organised for us in an environment which felt safe, was amazing. The children were so excited – especially because we were all out together.”
This year children in hospital need your toys more than ever. With no visitors allowed and hospital playrooms closed, help brings smiles to children in hospital. You can buy a toy via their wish list below:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find a collection point.