The COVID pandemic was incredibly tough for the families of seriously ill and vulnerable children cared for by Julia’s House – but perhaps none more so than 16 year-old Josselin’s family. Josselin features in this year’s Julia’s House Christmas appeal, and the charity’s Corporate Fundraiser Caroline Attreed is here to tell us more about how you can support them during the festive season…

Karen Tilley provides round-the-clock care for her daughter Josselin, and relies on the lifeline of support provided by the nurses and carers from Julia’s House.

Josselin will often sit bent double, covering her face with her hands to escape from a world she finds overwhelming. She has been blind and deaf from birth and is unable to walk, eat or talk because she has a complex and life-limiting condition called CHARGE syndrome. Josselin has had more than 35 operations – so many her mum has lost count – and she needs to be closely monitored because she has breathing and heart problems. It’s exhausting for Karen – Josselin can often be awake for three days and three nights – so when she’s awake, Karen’s awake, too.

Until two years ago, Karen was supported by her husband, Lee. But over Christmas 2020, Lee developed COVID and his health deteriorated rapidly. He collapsed at home and was rushed into hospital. Shortly afterwards Lee went into a coma for four weeks and during that time he had a stroke. While Lee is thankfully now stable and recovering, it has left him too weak to look after Josselin’s complex care needs, or to work.

Julia’s House is a lifeline for Karen and her whole family, and they hope that by sharing their story it will help to raise funds so more local families like theirs can benefit from our vital support. Karen tells us the only break she ever gets is when the Julia’s House nurses and carers got to their home, or when Josselin visits the hospice. Josselin’s behaviour can be quite challenging so there aren’t many people who can look after her – she self-harms and can hit and scratch her mum – it’s just her way of communicating.

This Christmas, Julia’s House is appealing for donations to help fund its life-changing children’s hospice service and bring light to local children and families like Josselin and Karen’s. We know that this winter will be a tough and worrying time for many people, but if you are able to open your heart this Christmas, your donation, no matter how big or small, will provide vital respite and care to the families who need it the most.

You can watch Josslin’s story below or here: Josselin’s Story – YouTube

Tree-mendous Recycling Mission

We are also looking for more practical support, as we need a team of “elves with wheels” to help with our big Christmas tree collection in January. Last year we collected around 650 Christmas trees and raised an incredible £9,250 in total across both Dorset and Wiltshire. This January we hope to collect even more, and we’d love to hear from anybody who has a van, who might be able to help us for a minimum of three hours in Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Corfe Mullen, Wimborne or Purbeck between Sunday 8 and Tuesday 10 January. We also need some strong volunteers to help lift and load Christmas trees onto the vans!

Once collected from local homes, the trees will be taken to Adventure Pirate in Lytchett Minster and recycled as chippings for use around the site.

If you live in one of these areas and would like our team to collect and recycle your tree, you can register now at www.juliashouse.org/collection

Or if you would like to volunteer to help with tree collections, please email our team at treepickup@juliashouse.org or call 01202 644220.

Julia’s House needs to raise just over £4m each year to provide our specialist care and practical support for families across Dorset and Wiltshire. And with just eight per cent ongoing government funding, we are almost entirely reliant on the generosity and kindness of the local community to make that happen.

On behalf of all the families we support I’d like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and say a very big thank you for any support you can offer this festive season.”

To read more about Josselin’s story and how else you can support Julia’s House this Christmas see here.

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