Parents of children with cancer visit Dáil
Parents ask for help from TDs and Senators to expand regional charity
Denis Naughton TD, Jennifer Carpenter, development officer of Hand in Hand, Dr Michael Coughlan, director of Hand in Hand, and Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames outside the Dáil yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
A group of parents of children with cancer travelled to Leinster House yesterday to brief TDs on the difficulties of providing love and support for their children while mopping floors, making dinners and maintaining a sterile home.
The parents want TDs and Senators to help “grow” a regional charity in the west of Ireland called Hand in Hand into a national organisation which is better placed to attract funding from government and commercial donors.
Hand in Hand was founded in Galway in 2006, initially to support the family of a two-year-old girl who was receiving treatment for leukaemia in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin.
The organisation now covers eight counties, and claims to be the only voluntary organisation that supports children and their families in this way through cancer treatment.
Services include collecting other children in the family from school or creche while parents are at work or with another child in hospital.
Hand in Hand volunteers, who are Garda vetted, also bring siblings to after-school activities, and mind children until a parent returns home from work or a hospital visit.
The charity also arranges house cleaning and laundry.
Hand in Hand spokeswoman Jennifer Carpenter said the charity wanted to establish on a national footing.
“Large commercial organisations tend not to deal with regional charities so we need to be a national charity to attract funding from corporate donors such as Tesco.”
Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames, who arranged the visit to Leinster House for the parents, said families needed practical help “to spend precious time with their children rather than trying to keep on top of household chores”.
Roscommon TD Denis Naughten said the issue regarding services for families in this position was not one of money. The money was available nationally but it was spread across the State into budgets in Primary Community Continuing Care (PCCC) areas. The difficulty was that some PCCC areas had resources left when others did not, and it was not possible to switch resources between areas.
“The money is there in the Primary Community Continuing Care service,” he said. But “you could have an area like Roscommon where resources may be spent by November, and another area like Longford where there may be resources not spent by that time”.
He said this also meant that if a child in Roscommon had no longer a need for a piece of equipment it would be handed back to the PCCC in Roscommon. But if another child needed one in Longford, a few miles away, the Roscommon one would not be available.
Mr Naughten added that he has asked Minister of State Alex White to look at unblocking such resources on a State-wide basis.