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Holiday joy for terminally ill mum

The dedicated work of a member of Adullam’s team in Sheffield and the help of the Family Holiday Charity have given a Mum with terminal cancer and her young daughter a break they will never forget.

Emma had battled with her mental health since 1992 with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and agoraphobia which she felt stole many years, and more recently everyday experiences between a mother and her child, from her.

Emma felt her mental health prevented her doing things with her daughter that many would do without a second thought, such as going to the park, taking her to school and going on holiday.

Just as Emma’s mental health and confidence was improving with the support of Adullam Foundations Service Coordinator Nicola , she was devastated by the news she had cancer.

Despite trying to stay positive, tests showed the cancer had already spread and it was confirmed as being terminal.

Nicola takes up the story. “Emma began grieving the years and experiences she will miss with her daughter, so I have worked intensely with her to help her make memories and facilitate experiences.

“Despite initially feeling she wasn’t strong enough; Emma found a strength in herself she never knew she had. She started taking her child to school, going on picnics, and even swimming.

“Working through her list of things she would love to do while she can, Emma said she couldn’t remember when she last had a holiday and said she had never been away with her partner and daughter as she had never been well enough.

“After searching online, I came across the Family Holiday Charity. I registered myself as a referrer, which only required an official email from Adullam, my employer. The people you are nominating should not have had a holiday in the last three years.

“I nominated Emma, her partner and their daughter for a free holiday in less than an hour, it was straight forward, and I needed no guidance despite never doing a referral with them before.

“A few weeks later I was thrilled to receive an email saying Emma and her family were being given a holiday. Along with the free holiday, Emma was awarded £90 in food vouchers, and money towards travel costs.

“Emma was emotional when I told her, she couldn’t believe she was going on holiday. I went to Emma’s home, called the booking agent and the agent talked us through the holiday at their chosen holiday park in Skegness.

“Emma and her partner were so excited, hearing they were staying in the luxury apartment Monday to Friday and that they had passes for swimming and the fairground rides all for free.

“I have worked for many years in jobs very similar to what I am doing now as a Service Coordinator for Adullam, but that moment, seeing their excitement and happiness while also knowing their sadness, was one of the most heart-warming and rewarding moments in my working life.

“The food vouchers were sent via email for me to print and there was a dedicated member of the Family Holiday Charity that works all the train journeys and times out for you, so it really is a simple process.”

“Unfortunately, there was a shortfall of £42 in the allowance for the train tickets, but Adullam’s Sheffield Foundations welfare pot was able to cover this. I was able to book Emma and her family into shows and play centres in Butlins which helped relieve any unnecessary stress.

“Emma called me on their second day on holiday to thank me. She said they were having the best time ever and were on their way to the beach. I went to see her when she was back home, and she said she didn’t realise how much she needed that holiday.

“Emma said for five days there was no cancer nor sadness and they all wished they could have stayed longer. They will never forget the memories.

“I had gone to Emma’s with a lovely welcome home hamper with treats for them all and was presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers by Emma’s little girl, which really took me by surprise.

“I would encourage anyone supporting families in need to look at the Family Holiday Charity as the joy it brings is probably more than you could ever imagine.”

Sheffield Foundations is a mental health assertive prevention support service that works with people across the city either living alone or with their families. It is designed to help them build up confidence, learn life skills, and so to remain independent within their own home/communities. Its aims are to help prevent people from needing adult social care, stop people with ill health from getting worse and avoid people who have needed care from needing it again.