The demands of having a child with a life-limiting illness very often make families feel isolated and under pressure in social situations. Start Hospices gives the whole family a chance to socialise, have fun together and create memories.

Families in rural North Wales have limited opportunities to engage in arts activities because of long distances and poor transport links.  It is even harder for the families who use the hospice because of the extra logistical challenges of taking a day out with a very unwell child, and because many venues do not have the facilities they need.  Start Hospices enables the arts venue and the hospice to work together to overcome these barriers and give the families the support they need to enjoy activities together. 

Theatr Clwyd tells us how the programme has made an impact on the theatre and the families:

"The Family Day is becoming an important annual event for the families of Ty Gobaith as it offers them the opportunity to socialise with like-minded families in a safe, caring environment whilst also injecting an element of fun and creativity in the practical activity and the chance to see a relaxed theatre performance."

The Davies family live near the theatre in Treuddyn, Flintshire.  They had never visited the theatre before they were engaged through Start Hospices.  They have since embraced all of the opportunities the programme offers and have joined in all the activities.  They are a family of six across three generations: a grandmother, parents and three siblings. They thoroughly enjoy their time at the theatre and have gained increased confidence in being part of this community.

It's nice to have somebody to chat about things, let off steam, nobody moans at you, children can make a noise, nobody stares at you, nobody looks at you, it's just nice.

Because of the pressures on the family and the needs of the child who is unwell, siblings can often feel overlooked and internalise their own worries and problems. As part of Start Hospices at Theatr Clwyd siblings were invited to take part in drama, design and props making workshops. One sibling from the Davies family said of her experience: 

We have freedom.