NHS unit in South Yorkshire caring for poorly or premature babies raising £150k for "dated" facility upgrade

“If your baby spent the first chapter of their lives with us, if you were born on the unit yourself, or even if you’re expecting your little one in the future, we’d love you to support us by fundraising.”

Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity’s Tiny Toes campaign is aiming to fundraise £150,000 to redevelop the hospital’s old neonatal unit.

Alison Cowie, Head of Nursing for Children’s Services at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Weeks of additional care on the neonatal unit, is tiring, stressful and an emotional time for families.

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"We want to provide a new home for these much-loved babies and their parents to allow them the time and support they need. A new neonatal unit will help us provide specialist care for the tiniest and most vulnerable members of our community."

Beth and James Selvey's baby, Iris, weighed just 650 grams when she was born. Beth says it's important for the space to feel as comforting and homely as possible.Beth and James Selvey's baby, Iris, weighed just 650 grams when she was born. Beth says it's important for the space to feel as comforting and homely as possible.
Beth and James Selvey's baby, Iris, weighed just 650 grams when she was born. Beth says it's important for the space to feel as comforting and homely as possible.

The unit, built over 40 years ago, cared for more than 400 newborns round-the-clock in 2022, with patient stays ranging from a couple of days to six months.

Jessica Kendall spent five weeks on the unit with her twin babies when they were born prematurely in January 2022.

She said: "We knew Frankie and Lottie would be born early, but we weren’t prepared for how early they did arrive - Lottie weighed just 2lb 10, and Frankie was 3lb 6.

Emma Taylor's baby, Teddy, was born at 27 weeks - a day before she was supposed to get married.Emma Taylor's baby, Teddy, was born at 27 weeks - a day before she was supposed to get married.
Emma Taylor's baby, Teddy, was born at 27 weeks - a day before she was supposed to get married.
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"The care we received was exemplary and I felt the staff really knew the babies' individual personalities.

"It was heart-wrenching leaving them to go home and look after their big brother Freddie, so I think parents will value a space that feels homely and comforting for their little ones."

The Trust will completely refurbish the unit, which was designed in the 70s, and use the funds raised for "extras", such as an overhaul of the existing family rooms with repainting, soft furnishings, new furniture, modern showers and kitchen facilities.

The current, basic kitchen facilities for families.The current, basic kitchen facilities for families.
The current, basic kitchen facilities for families.

The unit currently cares for 14 babies at a time, and will be able to have 16 after the redevelopment.

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Tiny Toes will also fund recliner chairs so parents can sleep beside their baby’s cot, a ‘wobble room’ for parents and staff who need time away from the ward, and keepsakes for families who have a baby receiving end-of-life care.

Fundraising activities are ongoing for the Tiny Toes campaign, with a skydive, golf day, and 10k run completed last month and a ‘polar plunge’ at Manvers Lake coming up on Saturday, November 25.

The current facilities will be improved to make better use of the space and to make it feel more comfortable and homely for families going through an emotional and stressful time.The current facilities will be improved to make better use of the space and to make it feel more comfortable and homely for families going through an emotional and stressful time.
The current facilities will be improved to make better use of the space and to make it feel more comfortable and homely for families going through an emotional and stressful time.

Donations can be made online on the Tiny Toes JustGiving page, or in person at Rotherham Hospital’s Charity Hub.

Rachael Dawes, Head of Fundraising at RHCC, said: "Raising £150,000 is ambitious but with the public’s support we know we can do it. Together, we hope to create a brighter future for premature and poorly babies.

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"If your baby spent the first chapter of their lives with us, if you were born on the unit yourself, or even if you’re expecting your little one in the future, we’d love you to support us by fundraising."