Charity is a lifeline for families of poorly kids

Theresa Barber with sons Luke and Harry.
Theresa Barber with sons Luke and Harry.

When a child is in hospital, it can mean a family is torn in two - one parent forced to sleep at their poorly child’s bedside, the other at home looking after siblings.

For those with the most seriously ill children, it can also mean expensive, and long journeys to specialist children’s hospitals miles from home.

Theresa chats with manager Jane McHale.

Theresa chats with manager Jane McHale.

But a charity is helping Yorkshire families stay together at the time they need it most by providing a “home from home” on the doorsteps of Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

The Sick Children’s Trust runs Eckersley House in Leeds, alongside two others in Sheffield, which provided a life-life for a family from Hemsworth.

Theresa Barber’s eight-year-old son Luke was rushed into hospital a fortnight ago.

And Eckerlsey House - just a two-minute walk from the children’s ward - has meant her younger son Harry, five, could stay with mum and dad while his brother was in hospital.

Initially admitted with a burst appendix, tests revealed serious bowel complications which meant Luke, who was born with exomphalos – a rare defect in the abdominal wall at the base of the umbilical cord - as well as chronic heart and lung disease, was treated on the intensive care unit at the LGI in a serious condition before being moved to the high dependency unit.

Mrs Barber, 34, of Hemsworth, said: “Having somewhere to stay has kept the family together.

“When Luke was initially on the ward I struggled to sleep beside him, having a space at Eckersley House has meant we’re all able to get a good night’s sleep before facing what the day has to throw at us.

“Practically speaking, it’s also saved us a fortune on petrol and takeaways, as we can cook as a family in the kitchen, and get all the ordinary jobs like the laundry done.

“The staff and volunteers have been so wonderful and so supportive.”

The charity has been nominated for a group award at this year’s Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards. Visit

The Sick Children’s Trust has been nominated for the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards group award this year.

It has been nominated alongside Follifoot Park Disabled Riders Group, based in Harrogate, and Martin House Children’s Hospice which is based in Wetherby, near Leeds.

Voting is now open and will close the day before the awards ceremony.

The ceremony will be held at the New Dock Hall in Leeds on October 14.

Eckersley House manager Jane McHale said: “While accommodation is free for families, it costs the charity around £30 to support a family for one night at Eckersley House and we are completely reliant on voluntary donations to keep the house running.

“On behalf of Eckersley House, the entire Sick Children’s Trust charity, and the 4,000 families we support every year.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you for nominating us for this award. “It means so much for our work to be recognised.”

To cast your vote, or find out how to nominate a child for an award, log on to