A few weeks ago we were invited to come down to The Big Family House Party in London at the Ronald McDonald House Charity.
Have you ever heard of this charity? I bet you that you have, but I’m also willing to bet that the majority of you will know the following about the charity:
- There is a link to McDonalds
- They do something for children
Am I right?
Well, both of those points are correct, but there is so much more to RMHC than you ever knew.
Ronald McDonald House Charity is a charity that gives families the chance to remain close to their child whilst they are in hospital in a place that is both comfortable, safe and warm – not to mention the most important thing of all: free of charge for a time when the last thing you should be worrying about is money. The location of the houses means that families – not just parents but grnadparents and siblings too if need be, can come and visit and be minutes away from their loved one’s bedside if need be. The houses have both private rooms and community spaces that mean families who are going through similar ordeals can support each other if they choose, build a sense of community and be there for one another. It means that siblings can continue on with some form of normality, staying with their parents whilst their parents are able to stay within reach of the child who maybe needs them the most.
As a mother of three, I can’t imagine having to leave my sick child in order to care for my other two, but I also can’t imagine leaving the other two, for weeks or months on end to travel hundreds of miles away to be near the poorly child. Can you imagine having to choose that? I spoke to one mum who did have to choose, she did have to leave her child behind with his dad and family members whilst she went to stay in the hospital where her other child was being treated. Once their approval for the accommodation came through, when her child needed further treatment this particular mum was able to take her breastfeeding baby not only into hospital but to a home, with all the home comforts and everything that they needed to ensure that they would be safe and minutes away.
Another mum that I spoke to asked me if I had ever had to stay somewhere away from home for a length of time, paying out of pocket without any idea how long it would be before I could go home. Fortunately for me the answer was no but let me put it to you this way: How long could you last spending hundreds of pounds a week on food, coffee, a bed…? I couldn’t last long, especially not if I wasn’t working because all of my working hours were spent with my sick child, or on a maternity leave that I hadn’t planned to take for another couple of months. RMHC allows families to stay together when otherwise it might not be financially viable.
There are 15 locations, all as close as is possible to the 14 specialist children’s hospitals in the UK. Did you know that just because you live near a large hospital, one that has specialist units (such as Edinburgh for example?) your child might need to be moved to the opposite end of the country because that hospital doesn’t cater to *that* need or speciality? Neither did I, I just assumed that every big hospital would have what was needed to sort it out… but they don’t. In 2016, over 7,000 families stayed in a Ronald McDonald House, close to their children in hospital. 7,000 families didn’t have to cope with extra stress, didn’t have to struggle with logistics or worry that they might not make it to their child in the dead of night if they were needed.
Ronald McDonald House Charity is an independent charity. So what is the restaurant link?
McDonald’s and their franchisees allow the RMHC to place collection boxes in their restaurants across the UK. These boxes provided Ronald McDonald House Charities with over £3.2 million in 2014, RMHC remains independent and free from any obligation to it’s partner, though it is the charity of choice for the huge name fast food brand! So why the name?
Well, Fred Hill, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles, had a daughter suffering from leukaemia, so the team started fundraising and raised over $100,000 to support the hospital where she was having treatment. The hospital was beyond grateful of course, but money doesn’t go far when we’re talking medicine and they were $32,000 short for the much needed house where families of the children in hospital would be able to go and rest, on a proper bed, with proper food. Ed Rensi, an area manager for McDonald’s at the time, came to the rescue. The donation from the fundraising done by Ed and his team was gifted on the condition that the house be known as the Ronald McDonald House – and it was, on 15 October 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors.
So now you know!
I hope you never need to use one of these houses, but should you ever find yourself in a position where you do, you will be in wonderful hands.