Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's the End of the Rainbow for 'Lifeline' Respite Centre for Children Will Close Down

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's the End of the Rainbow for 'Lifeline' Respite Centre for Children Will Close Down

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel

ARESPITE centre which has provided a lifeline for families with sick children is to close, it was announced yesterday. The Rainbow Trust is to close Fernstone House in Hexham, with the facility that opened in 1996 expected to shut by the end of the year.

Eight members of staff at the Allendale Road centre are to lose their jobs although the children's charity says there will be redeployment opportunities.

The respite centre has provided vital care for children with life-threatening or terminal illness and their families.

The trust is also to close its only other respite facility, in Surrey.

It claims the money saved by closing the facilities will allow it to employ more support workers to provide care in people's homes and in the community.

This will enable it to provide care to more families and address its current predicament whereby demand for its services outstrips supply.

But the move was last greeted with sadness by families who have used the centre, which welcomes people from all over the North East for breaks.

They said it would be impossible to provide the same level of respite at home, as in the centre.

Janet Mercer, 62, visited the facility on numerous occasions with grandson Tom Mercer, 18, of Newton Hall, Durham, as he underwent 18 months' chemotherapy after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2006.

Mrs Mercer described the closure of the "fabulous" facility as sad.

She said: "It took you away from everyday life basically with having a child with leukaemia you get stresses and strains all day.

"You could go there and leave it all behind because they do everything for you.

"When you are at home, you are still at home. When you were there it was like you were in a completely different world.

"The children did not seem ill, it was just as if it was all lifted off your shoulders."

A spokeswoman for the charity said it understood Mrs Mercer's concerns and that it will refer people to other agencies which can provide similar care to that at the centre.

Heather Wood, trust chief executive, said: "We are very proud of the work that has happened in our two houses over many years and our trustees have made this decision to ensure we offer practical support to as many families as possible. …

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