Think treats, not treatment
Putting the fun back into the lives of families with a critically-ill child
N MOST of our communities, there are families who have a child with a life-threatening illness. From cancer to muscular dystrophy, these families face high levels of stress and anxiety and it is our responsibility to be there for them. Camp Simcha’s vision is that “no Jewish child, wherever they are in the UK, should have to suffer serious illness without our support”. It believes that the best way to improve quality of life for the sick child is to change the life of the whole family, including siblings, often the forgotten sufferers. In February 2011, six-year-old Tami was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She has endured years of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy while her parents, Dawn and Jonny, watched their daughter change from a bundle of energy into a shadow of her former self.
During a routine visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital, Dawn noticed the huge bunch of shiny Camp Simcha balloons that had been delivered to the children’s ward earlier that day by a Camp Simcha volunteer. She contacted Camp Simcha and our Big Brother and Sister volunteers quickly became part of Tami’s life and that of her brother Joshua. They visited Tami regularly and took her to parties and outings, providing respite for Dawn and Jonny as their dedicated family liaison officer provided them with 24/7 practical and emotional support.
The whole family came on Camp Simcha Retreat, where they met other families who could really understand. Both Tami and Joshua were made to feel really special; they went on helicopter rides, enjoyed private film screenings, and experienced an amazing array of outings and activities. Every child was paired with a volunteer giving one-to-one attention, so Dawn and Jonny were able to relax.
While most people lined the streets or watched the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations on TV, the whole family enjoyed Camp Simcha’s Mad Hatters Tea Party, with human “bunny rabbits” playing games and a real Alice telling stories. One evening, straight after chemo, Tami and Joshua went with Camp Simcha to the X Factor concert at the O2 centre and even met
Camp Simcha helps all members of the family feel better and stronger
all the stars. When we spoke to her a few weeks later, Tami didn’t even remember the treatment she had received that day — all she could think of was meeting her heroes.
Camp Simcha services are free to families from all sectors of the Jewish community. Last year, it placed over 3,000 family liaison calls, facilitated over 2,000 volunteer visits and provided almost 1,000 hospital transports — just a few of its services, provided as standard, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, completely free. Camp Simcha receives no government funding and relies on the generous support of the community.