Express & Star

Acorns boss: Help us continue to be there for families in need

The reprieve for Acorns is great news – but the hard work starts now, says chief executive Toby Porter.

Last updated
Chief executive Toby Porter

In early June, Acorns had to announce a proposal to close our Black Country children’s hospice, located in Walsall.

There was simply not enough funds coming into the charity, amidst tough conditions for many charities, and uncertainty about how much of our care would be funded in the future by the NHS.

Our proposal caused families whose children are or were cared for by Acorns to come together and start a grassroots campaign to save the hospice from closure.

Thirty thousand of you have signed an online petition to keep the hospice open. It has been inspiring and humbling to meet, and to campaign with, these remarkable parents this past month.

Acorns Hospice in Walstead Road

I had the privilege of going to Westminster in the middle of June with Mark Lyttle, the father of brave Isabella, who lost her brave fight with brain cancer only in April.

Mark addressed a large and cross-party group of Black Country MPs, as well as senior Directors at NHS England, and asked passionately why the only children’s hospice in the Black Country could be threatened with closure because of a lack of funding.

Isabella Lyttle’s father Mark, centre, has been at the forefront of the campaign to save the hospice

Just three weeks later, things are looking so much better.

NHS England have said they will double their contribution to the running costs of all the country’s children’s hospices by 2024.

Even more significantly, Black Country NHS commissioners last week made a significant additional contribution to the care provided at our Walsall hospice, enough to guarantee we can care for children and support their families there until the end of March next year.

More on this story:

This support has provided an unexpected lifeline for the children and families we look after from our Acorns hospice in Walsall.

With significant new central Government funding to arrive by 2024, we can now launch our Save Acorns Black Country Appeal to local communities and businesses.

Acorns staff celebrate after the announcement – but the hospice still needs £2 million to keep going

If we are successful, the wonderful children’s hospice care delivered by our Acorns team in Walsall will continue to be available in the future for any Black Country child and family that needs our support.

Please give what you can.

Perhaps you could organise a fundraising event at home or at work or do something amazing to raise sponsorship for the appeal.

This is your local children’s hospice. Please help us be there for every family who needs us.