Charity marks 10 years at the heart of a Sheffield community

The respite charity Amy's House based in Handsworth is celebrating over ten years of running.. CEO Antonia Seward with founder/president Maurice Littlewood
The respite charity Amy's House based in Handsworth is celebrating over ten years of running.. CEO Antonia Seward with founder/president Maurice Littlewood
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When grieving grandparents Maurice and Meriel Littlewood first set up their Sheffield charity, their dream was to help a few local families like their own.

The pair felt compelled to do something after witnessing daughter Jayne struggle to cope with the loss of her little girl Amy to meningitis and caring for disabled daughter Molly.

The respite charity Amy's House based in Handsworth is celebrating over ten years of running. Anup with carer Leanne

The respite charity Amy's House based in Handsworth is celebrating over ten years of running. Anup with carer Leanne

And from humble beginnings as a small respite facility in Handsworth Nursery, Amy’s House has gone on to help hundreds of families in the area.

The centre, which moved to its new home in Ballifield Primary School in 2009, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Founder and president Maurice, aged 78, of Handsworth, said: “When we first started out I was an engineer – what I knew about childcare could be written on a stamp – but I saw Jayne struggling and saw she had nowhere to take Molly for respite.

“It began as a little group in the nursery on Saturdays and we’ve built it up. For the last three or four years we have been running all summer.

“I am hoping one day we’ll be able to open six to seven days a week.

“I keep saying that’s a long way down the line, but when I set up this place I was dreaming that one day it would be like it is now. I never thought we’d come so far.”

The centre now boasts a sensory room, soft play area, outdoor playground and skills kitchen.

Chief executive Antonia Seward, who has worked at Amy’s House for nine years, said: “I am really proud of how it has grown and blossomed.

“The feedback we get from families is fantastic –sometimes you don’t realise how valuable it is to them.”

To mark 10 years in business, Amy’s House has revamped its website to showcase its work caring for children between five and 18 with a range of special needs. There are also plans to host an open day to help get the word out there.

It might have grown over the years, but dedicated staff and volunteers have never lost sight of the inspiration behind the charity. Together they have ensured that the legacy of Amy and Molly, who died aged 17 in 2011, lives on in the hearts and minds of members of the community.

Maurice added: “Amy was a pupil at Ballifield so it feels like it has come full circle for me.”