A SPECIALIST hospice is determined to fight back and re-open seven-days a week so seriously ill children can receive the treatment they require in their hour of need. Earlier this year, Zoe's Place Baby Hospice was forced to close its doors two nights a week in a bid to reduce expenditure but everyone is working tirelessly to reverse the decision.

And the dedicated team behind the much-loved charity are determined to get the hospice back to full operational strength and continue their work in caring for children with life-limiting or or life-threatening conditions.

The centre, based at Normanby, Middlesbrough, offers respite care, family support and bereavement services for families from across the region. However, the cost of running the essential service is met by donations and fundraising.

All the medical staff at the centre, which is based in a former convent, are specially trained to care for babies with complex needs and there is always a dedicated member of staff caring for each child during their stay. The staff member will work with the families to devise a tailored care plan for each baby to ensure that we are fully meeting their needs.

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A donation of a mini-bus to the hospice

It is this unique care that results in the high cost of running the unit and unfortunately, led to the heartbreaking decision to reduce the days the facility is open to desperate families.

The charity's community fundraiser Rachael Bareham is confident that they will be able to return to the usual level of service, but is calling on people to get behind the hospice and return it to a sound financial footing.

She says: "We have such a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who are working tirelessly to raise the money that we need. Everyone is incredibly supportive of what we do, but like every other charity in the region, we are struggling to generate enough money to keep the doors open.

"However, the one thing that I can guarantee is that we will do everything in our power to keep the doors of this charity open – everyone connected with Zoe's Place is here because we love what the hospice does for families.

"The hospice really is in all of our veins and the decision to reduce the number of days we were open was absolutely heartbreaking. We deliver specialist one-to-one care but unfortunately, that is very costly and with the current difficult financial situation we are unable to offer that seven days a week."

The hospice, which is tucked away in its own grounds, offers families a home-from-home while their child is receiving medical treatment or respite care to ease the struggle of looking for a seriously ill child. They have six bedrooms at the hospice for patients to stay in as well as a state-of-the-art sensory room for the youngsters to relax in, while a soft play area adds to the informal atmosphere.

Mrs Bareham adds: "The families who use our facilities are all very understanding when we tell them that we are unable to open on a Tuesday or Sunday evening and we will never turn anyone away who needs our help.

"We are entirely funded through fundraising, grants and donations – we receive no funding from the NHS. We are always eternally grateful for donations such as specialist equipment or a new mini-bus, which we received recently, but it is the money needed for our day-to-day running costs that is so essential.

"Our corporate supporters are fantastic, and we are always thankful for their efforts, but it is smaller donations from fundraising events and collections that really can make a difference for us. Our team of volunteers and fundraisers do an amazing job and we wouldn't be where we are today without them."

Among the major donors is the Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group who recently visited the hospice when they handed over a cheque for £21,000 raised through the group’s annual Santa Ride. To date, the group has raised in excess of £300,000 over the years with every penny.

The fundraiser added: "The hospice is clearly an important part of the community and is much-loved by everyone who has used it over the years – so we are absolutely determined to get it fully open again. If anyone wants to help us with fundraising or becoming a corporate partner, please get in touch, we would love to hear from them."

Anyone interested in supporting the charity is urged to call 01642-457985 or visit