I have teamed up with Fairy Non-Bio who will be donating to LauraLynn Children’s Hospice from every pack of Fairy Non-Bio Pods and Fairy Non-Bio Fabric Softener sold between now and July 12th. Fairy Non-Bio have committed to make a minimum donation of €25,000 to LauraLynn later this summer.
Each day when we wake we never know what encounters lie ahead. That’s the true beauty of life.
A few weeks ago during my lunch break from college I headed up to LauraLynn to do an interview for Xpose and support them for Children’s Hospice Week.
I met a young Mum Sam while I was waiting and she introduced me to her beautiful daughter Isabella. As I watched Sam with Isabella I was struck by her energy and how gentle, patient and compassionate she was. As a mum myself I learnt so much from being with her that day and as I sat in the car afterwards I realised that it was Sam’s presence with her daughter that made it so magical.
Isabella has a rare neurological disorder and Sam is her full time carer. She also has a son called Alex who is a few years older than Isabella. During the first year of Isabella’s life she was admitted to hospital regularly for seizures. She did not sleep at night and Sam sat by her side watching her just in case anything happened. Bevan, who now works at LauraLynn, was their outreach nurse at the time and he introduced them to LauraLynn recognizing that they couldn’t keep going the way they were.
THEIR FIRST VISIT
They went out to meet the team expecting it to be very clinical and hospital like and were delighted when it was absolutely nothing like that. LauraLynn has a very homely and welcoming atmosphere. Most importantly Sam knows Isabella’s happy there and she always has a smile on her face when she thinks of LauraLynn now.
Isabella was able to stay at LauraLynn for Alex’s first day of school, which meant Sam could focus on Alex and this made him feel special. Sam admits it was hard in the beginning and she would cry and constantly ring checking in on Isabella but she knew she was running on empty and needed a break.
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
Sam and her family get 15 nights overnight care per year. There’s also a range of therapeutic and family support interventions if she feels they need them. Sam admits the respite can be daunting but necessary otherwise they simply can’t function properly. LauraLynn also offer support in the form of a community for families. Some of the children in school with Isabella also attend LauraLynn and to help support each other Sam set up a private Facebook group for “Extra Special Mums”. She said she can go out with special need’s mums and be herself and laugh at silly things with friends in the same situation.
Having a child with special needs in Ireland comes with great difficulties, as you have to fight for absolutely everything. You really have to shout and that’s hard especially when you are so tired. Isabella’s medical card was taken off her a few years ago and it put a lot of stress on the family. LauraLynn were incredible during this time and eventually Sam and her family fought and got the card back. You will hear these stories the length and breadth of Ireland as our most vulnerable amongst us suffer.
Isabella took part in the first LauraLynn Oscars that took place last year. Each child made a movie with the help of industry professionals and Isabella’s brother Alex even had his school involved and they all attended the Oscar’s evening to receive their award.
Isabella also performed in a play in the Abbey Theatre and there are family and sibling camps too. All of these events and activities help to make special memories and fulfill these dreams for families.
Having LauraLynn is a very important part of the Villena’s lives. The charity does so much with and for the children and their families. This essential service is free for all families giving them both relief and respite even if it’s just for a short time.
Sam shifted something in me the day I met her. She really touched my heart and for that I will always be grateful. Never underestimate the power one person can have on another. After all we are all in this game of life together.