Army&You hears how a Wiltshire hospice is embracing the area’s growing Service community…

MILITARY families form a high percentage of the population across Wiltshire so it’s no surprise that some of them are already benefitting from the support of Julia’s House, the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice.

The number of parents needing access to community and hospice care is growing as more Service households move into the county as part of the Forces basing programme.

A quarter of all the care currently given by the charity in Wiltshire is in the homes of military families.

Service support

The military already provides assistance to its soldiers and families in need of help during difficult

or stressful times, but Julia’s House enhances this support by working with other agencies to make sure life-limited children get the care they need, where and when they need it.

One such child is Sophia Thursby (pictured with her family), who is receiving assistance from the Julia’s House community care team.

The three-year-old is blind and suffers from severe epilepsy which means she has constant seizures and can need resuscitating several times   each day.

She lives with her mum, Rebecca, dad Damien, who is a full-time Reservist with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, and brother Harry. Sophia cannot be left with friends or extended family as her seizures are so severe.

Rebecca said: “When I found out Julia’s House was planning to build a hospice in Devizes [opening in spring 2017] I was so excited.

“It will be amazing for families like mine to have access to all sorts of wonderful facilities under one roof.

“It’s just going to be so stimulating for Sophia to have a change of scene and to be able to play safely in a new environment with people she trusts, rather than staying at home.”

Julia’s House understands the diverse nature of the military and the impact of not having family members close by who are able to help.

The strain of looking after a sick child can be very isolating – especially if you have no loved ones nearby or a partner who is away on exercise or deployment.

Having a nurse or carer come to your home can be a lifeline.

Vital funds

Julia’s House receives just five per cent of its income from the government, relying on donations and fundraising for the vital funds it needs each year to run its service.

The military community has been rallying behind the charity. Tidworth Garrison Commander, Colonel Steve Lawton, is an ambassador, and a fantastic group of kind-hearted Army families and soldiers have generously volunteered their time to help raise funds.

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