Many charities are appealing to the public for their support this Christmas, but a charity right here in Wales needs help.
Tŷ Hafan, the family hospice for young lives, has been providing care and support to life-limited children, young people and their families in Wales since 1999.
The number of children needing its services is increasing, which is why the charity has launched its Christmas Appeal.
Little Rhydian Verdin and his family were referred to Tŷ Hafan in 2009. Seven-year-old Rhydian is an outgoing, happy and charming little boy. He is always smiling and loves nothing more than to sing and dance to his favourite songs.
But what makes Rhydian different to other boys his age is that he is battling a brain tumour. He was six months old when he was diagnosed and despite several operations, the tumour grew back.
Rhydian is not able to bear his weight, except with a standing frame, has limited movement on his right side, has partial sight in his left eye and is registered blind.
His family from Lampeter were devastated when doctors said he couldn’t have any more surgery and that he would need 30 sessions of extensive radiotherapy.
The family didn’t know where to turn until they were told about Tŷ Hafan. “We were in desperate need of help,” said mum Carys. “Our lives had been thrown upside down and we thought we’d have to face our journey alone.
“It was such a relief to know that we had Tŷ Hafan’s support. For the first time in a long time, we were able to share our concerns with a team of people who really cared about our needs, and I instantly felt the weight lift off my shoulders,” said Carys, a mother-of-four.
Tŷ Hafan provided the family with a safe, comfortable environment whilst they made endless trips to hospital for Rhydian’s radiotherapy treatment.
“We went to the hospital every morning, five days a week. Rhydian and I stayed at the hospice from January to April and Les and the kids would visit every weekend.
“Without Tŷ Hafan, we would have been forced to drive two-and-a-half hours each day for his treatment. Either that, or stay at the hospital, and we really didn’t want Rhydian to experience that.
Rhydian’s siblings Catrin and Owain both belong to Tŷ Hafan’s super sibs group in west Wales. They have made lots of new friends and enjoy spending time with other siblings facing similar situations.
Catrin suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is also in and out of hospital. Tŷ Hafan’s support is vital as it allows Rhydian to be cared for at the hospice whilst his older sister is treated at hospital.
The family also benefit greatly from Tŷ Hafan’s outreach services. A family support worker is available 24 hours a day and will visit them at home regularly, offering financial advice, helping them access community services as well as just providing a listening ear for when the going gets tough.
“Tŷ Hafan also visits us at home to show us how to play with Rhydian. He can’t see colours but he can see shapes, which is why it’s so important for him to be visually stimulated,” said Carys. She added: “This list goes on and the support never stops. Tŷ Hafan has meant everything to us.
We really hope more people show their support so more families like ours don’t have to face their journey alone.”
Tŷ Hafan’s Christmas Appeal has already raised a fantastic £12,000, but Tŷ Hafan still needs more people to show their support to ensure it can continue providing vital support to life-limited children, young people and their families from across Wales.