Joan and Leo Johnston with Jack & Jill nurse Caroline Thomas
Kildare-based children's charity the Jack & Jill Foundation has issued an urgent appeal for help from the public, after its fundraising has been slashed by Covid-19 restrictions.
Its nine charity shops have closed and most of its fundraising events have been cancelled. The charity, located in Johnstown, is currently supporting 340 children and families but faces a shortfall of €500,000.
The charity said in a statement: "The children Jack & Jill looks after are very vulnerable; children from birth to five years of age with highly complex and life-threatening medical conditions being cared for at home."
Leo Johnston, aged 2, from Dublin is one of those being cared for. His mother Joan said: “Within two or three days of being referred, our liaison nurse was in our home listening to us and telling us 'We can help you'. They have been the most supportive group of people. They have been lifesavers”.
Throughout this crisis, Jack & Jill's specialist home nursing and end-of-life care continues, with many families still in receipt of home visits from their regular nurse or carer. For the remainder, who have been self-isolating for some time, the nursing team provides phone and video support to help parent carers keep their sick child safe and well cared for at home, where they belong.
With the help of Jack & Jill founder Jonathan Irwin, who himself is cocooning at home, the charity is urging the public to donate €4 by texting the words 'We Care' to 50300 or to give what they can through www.jackandjill.ie. Every €16 donated provides a family with one hour of home nursing support from the Jack & Jill team.
Commenting on the crisis, Jonathan Irwin said:
"All of a sudden the rug has been pulled from underneath our fundraising feet, with everything cancelled because of Covid-19. One thing we're not short of at Jack & Jill is resilience, spurred on by the families we support and their surrounding community. We need support from the community and we believe we will get it, because people understand the lifeline that is Jack & Jill and our reach across the country. I would appeal to everyone who can to dig deep and help us out at this challenging time. Our service must and will prevail. Thank you."
Jack & Jill was founded 22 years ago by Kildare couple Jonathan Irwin and his wife, former Senator Mary Ann O'Brien, as a response to caring for their own infant son Jack, who had suffered brain damage, at home.
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation must raise €3.8 million every year to fund its unique home nursing care and end of life support which is provided to sick children from birth to 5 years of age, around the country. These are children with highly complex and life threatening medical conditions who may not be able to walk or talk, are tube fed, oxygen dependent and require around the clock care. The Jack & Jill service operates seven days a week, has no waiting list and mobilizes an army of nurses and carers around the country and has done so for 22 years. More information on www.jackandjill.ie