W Bro Adrian Fox reports. 

2020 was the 20th anniversary of Richard House Children’s Hospice. No-one could have predicted what a year it would be, or the impact it would have on the community they look after. Despite the global pandemic, the team is committed to caring for life-limited children and their families, as they have done for 21 years. 

Chris Williams, the Hospice’s Head of Community & Events, says that “our families are coping in extraordinary circumstances, with most parents caring for their life-limited child 24/7”. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety, which many struggled with before Covid-19, are heightened by the isolation and stress of shielding a child critically vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. 

Words from our staff 

Sarah Crowley, Palliative Care Nurse, talks about how she and her team respond to the pandemic. “We are all working together to make a safe and happy environment, making sure we are here for each other, with small gestures such as making a cuppa, lending an ear to someone’s worries or offering lifts to staff who rely on public transport.

“I know everyone is affected by the fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19. But we know it is vital to continue coming into Richard House because of the support we provide to the most vulnerable families in our communities.”

How our services have adapted 
Chris says, “lockdown and social distancing have changed how we deliver all of our services at Richard House, from essential medical care to the emotional support we offer loved ones. We are following government guidelines at every stage, and our commitment to protecting our vulnerable beneficiaries and staff has necessitated strict COVID measures. With many of our families choosing to receive our Hospice-at-Home service rather than residential stays, our five bedrooms have become increasingly available. In March, we knew we had the opportunity to play a more significant role in our community through this crisis.

“We have been taking in children from local hospitals to minimise the risk of them contracting Covid and take some of the pressure from the NHS. Most of these young patients are currently undergoing long-term treatment and are as vulnerable as the life-limited children on our existing caseload.

“Thanks to investment in more robust systems and technology, we can now connect with our children and families virtually, offering therapy and counselling sessions, online parent support groups and music therapy for children. Shifting to online ways of working has been vital in ensuring we can reach our beneficiaries, alleviating feelings of isolation, and connecting them through the lockdown.

“Richard House is London first children’s hospice, providing care to life-limited children and their families for over 20 years. We must remain open through this crisis and into the future, so we can continue being a lifeline to the many vulnerable families who need us now more than ever.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Masonic Charitable Foundation and London Freemasons. Their generosity has meant we can keep on providing the best possible care to life-limited children in the community. A huge thank you!”


This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.