World Prematurity Day literally took over the whole month. We spent a lot of time focusing on issues that prematurity brings. That doesn’t mean only the babies on the neonatal unit that are premature babies – Spoons supports all babies and their families on the neonatal unit, regardless of if babies were born at 24 weeks, 30 weeks or 41 weeks, or how long they spend on the unit. Their journey is important to us and we aim to make it as stress free as possible. We also work closely with Peeps, a charity also based in Manchester. They provide support to families of HIE babies. Peeps is a fairly new charity and is doing some wonderful work. We love working with them and are having lots of fun making plans for collaboration.
We love working with other organisations and charities who provide neonatal support. We also like to work in partnership with charities who have a similar aim to us. We like sharing ideas and it is nice to feel part of a wider network.
So back to November, we had lots of good news with regards to funding and fundraising opportunities. We’re being supported by the lovely guys at Aqua Babies, who are raising funds for us in their Christmas competition. We are also being supported by Mill Gate Shopping Centre in Bury. For those guys it is definitely beginning to look like Christmas, and their Christmas shoppers are donating to Spoons. It is fantastic to have support from local businesses, it really means so much.
We were also supported by St Michael’s Primary School in Alkrington and St Vincent’s playgroup in Rochdale. They went Purple for Prematurity and it was lovely to see the staff and kids wearing purple to raise awareness of prematurity and life on the neonatal unit.
We marked World Prematurity Day in style on the neonatal units. We had a visit from the Mayor of Oldham at Royal Oldham neonatal unit. The Mayor took some time out of his schedule to have a cup of tea with neonatal unit staff and meet with families of babies on the neonatal unit. He was touched by the amazing strength of families on the neonatal unit, and of the dedication of the staff. We partied hard with staff and families on the neonatal unit at North Manchester and our wonderful peer support volunteer Beth got creative with her selfie frame.
We attended the very first Big Bash for Spoons which was organised by Benn Earnshaw, manager of the Red Hall Hotel, Ramsbottom. Benn and his wife Louise had premature twins who were cared for at North Manchester General Hospital Neonatal Unit. They know only too well about the challenges of having a baby in NICU and they wanted to support other families in NICU and those who have experienced neonatal care. It was a fantastic night with lots of purple, lots of dancing and some delicious food. Benn and his family, friends and colleagues raised over £5,000 to support families experiencing neonatal care. We are very much looking forward to attending that again next year!
The final day of our World Prematurity Day celebrations saw our 4th annual World Prematurity Funday. This was put together by our trustees, volunteers, staff from the neonatal units and our wonderful neonatal families. We did slime making, rock painting, hair braiding, treasure hunting and everyone who came had fun. We raised an impressive £1,700.00 on the day but also raised awareness of the work the charity does and the support we provide to families in neonatal care.
It is safe to say November was a good month.
So what is next for Spoons? Well December promises to be just as busy and it is really beginning to look like Christmas. There is glitter and gifts everywhere.
We have our annual Christmas party for families and staff from the neonatal unit, which is always a fantastic afternoon.
We also have visits from Santa and his elves on the neonatal unit. This is a special event and allows us to bring some Christmas magic to the neonatal unit. Families get the opportunity to have their baby’s photograph taken with Santa and neonatal siblings get to chat to him. Of course there are gifts to wrap for our babies and families on the neonatal unit and mince pies to be eaten by us all.
Whilst we do have fun with Christmas on the neonatal unit and within our neonatal communities, it is important we point out that Christmas with a baby on the neonatal unit can be difficult, and whilst we aim to make it special, some families are dreading Christmas as they know their baby will still be on the neonatal unit and their family will be split.
So this year if you’re thinking of donating to charity rather than giving Christmas cards, or looking to donate the cost of a Christmas gift, please consider donating to Spoons, or maybe even purchase a Christmas gift from our shop. The support we provide to neonatal families is essential throughout the whole year, but at Christmas it makes that little bit more difference.