Amy’s House is going from strength-to-strength.
Some 14 years after the Sheffield charity launched in the city, its popularity is bringing about a lot of changes - one of the most important being its recent move to bigger premises at The Oasis Academy on the site of the old Don Valley Stadium.
“We’d completely outgrown our old base, at Ballifield School, and we had more requests for spaces than we could accommodate, so we knew it was time to make the move,” said manager Jayne Hurditch, whose daughter Amy was the inspiration behind the charity, after she died of meningitis just a few days before her ninth birthday in 1999.
It was Jayne’s parents - Maurice Littlewood MBE and Meriel Littlewood - who started the charity following the loss of their granddaughter, to offer respite care for South Yorkshire families.
Amy’s House is a facility for families with children, aged 5-18, who have additional support needs and sometimes life limiting illnesses. It provides Saturday and school holiday sessions, family support, sensory room sessions, support in the home and inclusive activities in a safe and secure environment.
And these new dedicated premises, which the charity moved into at the end of April, are now driving forward plans to help the charity focus care on teenagers aged 15 and over - a new scheme called Molly’s Mates, in memory of Jayne’s other daughter, who was born with severe special needs.
“Amy died in 1999, and then Molly died in 2011, following a huge epileptic seizure,” said Jayne.
“Molly was 17 when she died and Molly’s Mates is our tribute to her, a way to cater for older children.
“Kids that age want to go to the cinema and go for pizza; we have plenty for young kids to do, but I think older kids can fall through the cracks a little bit, so Molly’s Mates will help us focus on that.”
To celebrate the move - and the charity’s bright future in its new home - the team welcomed Sheffield’s Lord Mayor, Coun Anne Murphy, last week to open their annual Big Plant Sale.
“It was brilliant to welcome the new Lord Mayor to take a look around and hear all about the fabulous work we’re doing,” said Jayne.
“We’ve come such a long way in the past decade; we’re now working with around 70 local families and this recent expansion means we’re looking to take on three more staff members, to allow us to cater for even more children. Where we are now, we rent out extensive indoor and outdoor space, providing greater capacity, and enabling us to help more families. Our thanks to James Pape and Beverly Eaton at Oasis for assisting us with moving forward and for all their help settling us in.
“We have some wonderful supporters, and a great community behind us, but we don’t receive any government funding, so we really do rely on people hosting fundraisers for us and doing all they can. One such wonderful group of women, who came along to meet the Lord Mayor, are Amy’s Aunties - a group of ladies who host a coffee morning for us every single week.
“We can’t thank people like that enough for their support. We have gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years, and we would like the community to know that we are still around, and that, as well as we’re doing, we’re still a small charity and we really do need all the help we can get.”
Call Jayne on 0114 2422294 if you can help, or visit Amy’s House for details.