When a redesign of the £6.2 million project was approved last year, Noah’s Ark said the aim was to have north London’s first purpose-built children’s hospice ready for opening by March 2019.
At any one time, within Noah’s Ark’s catchment area of central and north London and Hertsmere, there are around 1,200 babies, children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.
Among those attending the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction work was Samantha Cameron, wife of the former Prime Minister David Cameron.
She described how she and her husband were devastated when they lost their son Ivan and she hoped that many children and their families would benefit from the care that would be available once Noah’s Ark opens its doors.
There will be four wings to the new hospice, forming an X-shaped building.
Leading off from the main reception area will be a wing with six children’s bedrooms; a wing with three family rooms for visitors, and nursery facilities; a wing with therapy play areas with soft and wet games, and a children’s den; and a wing providing offices for the charity.
The central space will be the reporting point for key workers who help children out in the community, and the architects said the aim of the redesign was to take as much benefit as possible from the outlook provided by the seven-acre nature reserve maintained by the Barnet Environment Centre.
Noah’s Ark and the environment centre share the use of the nature reserve and the two organisations hope there will be plenty of cross over in the work they do, with children from the hospice enjoying the nature reserve as much as the many parties of school children from across the Borough of Barnet.
...which currently supports 200 children, by providing a 24-hour end-of-life, post-death and bereavement care
In a statement on its website, Noah’s Ark says the new hospice will complement the charity’s existing hospice-at-home services, which currently supports 200 children, by providing “a 24-hour end-of-life, post-death and bereavement care”.
To help raise the final £2 million, the charity has launched a Build The Ark campaign asking members of the public to give an hour’s salary to build the hospice.
Ru Watkins, Noah’s Ark chief executive, said that the opening of the hospice would enable the charity to offer more care for the children and families who most need it.
“It will be a state-of-the-art hospice, serving our families first, but also the wider community.
It will be a unique community hub open to other groups to enjoy the facilities and support the development of the hospice.”
Palliative care facilities that will be available locally for the first time will include sensory, music and wet play rooms; sensory gardens; a drop-in facility for families; 24-hour end-of-life care, including specialised care for new born babies; and post-death care.
Among the recent donations highlighted by Noah’s Ark in recent months is a £95,000 donation raised by staff through collection boxes and percentages on special meal deals at 144 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets across London.
For details of the appeal see: www.BuildingTheArk.org.uk