In 2008, long before the days of social media, our now Chairperson Sam Prior felt a strong need to create a network off support for the families of those children who had been cared for by Ocean Ward. As a parent of a child with CHD, she realised that support could be best provided by those in a similar position. Therefore, Sam begin holding regular coffee mornings within the hospital, as a way for families to meet with other families in the same situation as themselves.
Following on from the success of the coffee mornings, and a robust campaign to save our surgical cardiac services at Southampton hospital, 2011 saw us become an official registered Charity (1145013). This was formed by volunteer parents of children with cardiac disease, who rely on the services provided by Ocean Ward and it’s team of specialist and dedicated staff.
We have fantastic links with the ward which enables us to stay abreast of the day to day needs of families being cared for on Ocean Ward and we welcome suggestions from people using the ward for ideas for improvements such as Wifi which we installed in 2015.
When Social media took hold, we created a facebook group for the charity to further offer support to our families. As of today we currently have over 1400 members who can post for help, advice and reassurance as well as create new friendships with other members in the same position as themselves. Through the continued fundraising efforts and donations made to Families of Ocean Ward we have been able to continually help our families in a variety of ways.
A large proportion of our funds are used to assist families during long stays on Ocean Ward by way of a hardship payment. We have purchased and replenished toys, tv’s, Wifi, laptops, games consoles, dvd’s, all for the pleasure and use by children and families on Ocean Ward. We have also purchased new beds for parents, chairs and stools, sofa bed and sofa for the teenage room. We offer fun family days out at little or no cost to the family. In 2009, we saw our 1st annual day out to Paultons Park, which is now a huge success and we welcome lots of families for a day of fun in the park each year. Our first annual Christmas Party in 2011 was also a massive hit with Santa delivering presents for the heart children and their siblings and lots of festive fun for families.
Where needed we are able to purchase essential equipment to assist families caring for their child at home. We have previously sponsored a nurse to provide a home monitoring service to enable patients to return home between stages of surgery, where normally they would have had to stay on the ward. This is now funded by the hospital trust after the trial proved successful.