Christmas is a time for giving but one Kent charity has taken the unusual step of issuing a plea not to receive presents this year.
Demelza Hospice Care for Children cares for around 500 life-limited babies, children and young people across Kent, South East London and East Sussex and supporting their families.
Sadly many of the children they look after are unable to enjoy gifts such as toys, sweets and chocolates because of their conditions.
So the charity is asking that donors give money instead of presents this year, so that they can afford to provide the essential care on offer.
Demelza’s chief executive, Ryan Campbell, said: “We are constantly in awe of the tremendous generosity people show to our charity.
“At Christmas, their thoughts naturally turn to giving us toys but sadly most of them are just not suited to our children’s very special needs.”
Most Demelza children also have special dietary requirements, which sometimes require tube feeding.
Mr Campbell added: “The thing which most benefits our children – not just at Christmas, but all year round – is the special care shown to them by our team. That’s priceless.
“As such, we would ask that those who wish to give a gift for Christmas, to consider making a donation instead to ensure we can continue providing the very best care and support to local families.
“As a charity, not part of the NHS, this is how we are able to provide the care and support that the families rely on.”
A donation of £10 would cover the cost of an hour’s music therapy session with a life-limited child or bereaved young sibling.
Or it might provide an evening meal for a family, so for once somebody else cooks for the child’s parents.
“It’s these things that make what we do so special,” says Mr Campbell.
Any businesses or individuals who do wish to purchase items for Christmas are asked to telephone the hospice beforehand for guidance.
“Obviously, we want our children to enjoy Christmas as much as anyone,” said Mr Campbell.
“Whilst we do not wish to appear ungracious or ungrateful, our care team, who know the children individually, are best placed to know what gifts would benefit each child the most.
“We can really only accept special sensory toys and books – and maybe art and craft supplies, which form a large part of our memory-making here.”
To find out more about Demelza or to make a donation, visit www.demelza.org.uk or call 01795 845288.