On Sunday 8th December Charlie House welcomed 195 children, siblings, parents and carers to its annual Christmas Party. The party is open to all the families who are receiving support from the charity to attend.
Charlie House works with babies, children and young people with complex disabilities and life-limiting conditions, their siblings and their parents. These children have conditions from which there is no reasonable hope of cure, many are wheelchair bound, have limited communication and sensory impairment. Many also rely on technology to keep them alive, are tube fed and require regular medication.
Caring for a child with complex medical needs can put huge pressure on parents and impacts on the whole family and may lead to families experiencing social isolation and poor wellbeing. It can be particularly difficult for families at this time of year with the added pressure of preparing for the festive season.
Many of the children we work alongside are unable to enjoy Christmas experiences that others take for granted. A trip to Santa’s grotto may be completely out of the question for a family whose child has seizures, requires regular medication, or has a difficult sensory experience. Children may also have to spent time in hospital or be undergoing medical treatment so the family might not be able to spend the festive period together.
The Charlie House Family Christmas Party aims to create a fun, fully-inclusive environment for children and families to enjoy themselves without having to worry about whether or not they can take part.
The party took place at the P&J Live which is an accessible venue and gives families access to a Changing Place with a hoist and a height adjustable changing bed. It was a relaxed event where families were encouraged to take part in as many or as few activities as they wished with no queues, no timelines and no pressure.
There were lots of opportunities for children to take part in sensory play and to experience all the sounds, smells, and textures of Christmas, as well as enjoying a fun sensory disco. Parents and children alike were able to get their faces painted and get glitter tattoos, and to enjoy relaxing pampering sessions together too.
Leigh Ryrie, Children & Family Support Manager at Charlie House, said, “The Charlie House Family Christmas Party is such an important event in our festive calendar and we enjoyed creating a truly special day for the whole family to enjoy.
“The families we support may face lots of different challenges when it comes to trying to find a Christmas event that is suitable and accessible for the whole family. Even something as simple as having a venue which can comfortably accommodate several wheelchairs without them bumping into each other can make life so much easier for these families.
“This Christmas party is a safe, inclusive space where children with complex disabilities and their able-bodied siblings can have fun and play together – families don’t have to worry about the venue not having the necessary facilities, about having to stick to a strict timeline if their child becomes upset or unwell, or their child missing out on the opportunity to meet Santa because the grotto isn’t accessible to them.
“This is a chance for families to enjoy spending time together and creating precious Christmas memories.
“Thank you to each and every individual and business who supported this year’s Christmas Party, and thank you to all the families who attended on the day.”
Thank you to all the individuals and companies who supported the event and helped us create a truly special day for all the families:
3 Tiers Creative for designing and building a special custom grotto for Santa
B A Country Stores for their kind donation of Christmas characters to dress the grotto
LaLa Lights for their fantastic ‘Charlie House’ lights
Love Rara for their sparkly tattoos and face paints, and for bringing along Iron Man and Elsa
Circus Modo for their fun circus skills workshop
Kev and his sensory disco for creating a fun sensory experience for the whole family
Santa and his elves for giving all the children a truly special Christmas experience
The staff at P&J Live for being so accommodating both in the run up to the event and on the day
And our incredible group of volunteers for giving up their time to help create this incredible day
Find out more about how Charlie House can support families across the North-east of Scotland. If you are interested in supporting the next Charlie House Family Christmas Party please contact email@example.com for further information.