Evie’s Night Owls respite care set to go it alone

Service providing vital help for families with seriously ill children was being supported by Camp Simcha


Parents Sam and Lee Bladon know only too well the mental and physical toll that caring for a sick child can bring.

It inspired them to set up Evie’s Night Owls, in memory of their daughter, to help fund night-time respite care for families with seriously ill children who were being supported by Camp Simcha.

Now, after six years of fundraising for the charity, which offers services to families impacted by childhood illness, Evie’s Night Owls has announced plans to set up on it own.

Evie, who was born in 2012, was severely brain damaged after being deprived of oxygen during her birth. Doctors did not expect her to survive beyond 48 hours, but she went on to celebrate three birthdays with her family.

“It is not something you can prepare for,” explained Lee, Evie’s father. “We couldn’t have coped without the support of Camp Simcha.”

The charity supported the family, who live in north London, throughout Evie’s life, and provided occasional overnight respite. This meant they could get much-needed rest and had more time to care for their other children, who were four and two when Evie was born.

“Overnight care might sound like a simple thing, but parents with sick children don’t want to leave them with just anyone,” said Lee.

“Personal relationships are so important, and knowing that we had people who would come and know exactly how to care for Evie meant we could rest.

“It helped us to be there for all our children.”

Evie’s mother, Sam, who announced their charity plans on September 21, which would have been Evie’s 11th birthday, said: “Evie’s health issues meant she needed 24/7 care, so we were up every night with her, with very little local authority respite support. The respite care we got [from Camp Simcha] was a lifesaver.”

She said it had been “fantastic” working with Camp Simcha, but “now, we want to reach even more families, both within the Jewish community and beyond, which is why we are branching out on our own”.

Sam said they were hoping to be able to work with partner organisations throughout the UK “and get the funding we need to provide respite care to all those in similar situations to the one we were in — parents who are desperately struggling to keep their heads above water when they have night after night without sleep”.

A spokesperson for Camp Simcha said that even though Evie’s Night Owls would no longer be one of its projects, Camp Simcha would continue to offer both daytime and overnight respite care to families who needed it as part of its core service provision.

Sam said that after becoming established as an independent charity, she hoped that Evie’s Night Owls would, in future, be able to assist Camp Simcha with some of its respite support.

Neville Goldschneider, chief executive of Camp Simcha, said the charity had been honoured to play its part in establishing Evie’s Night Owls.

He told the JC: “Since it was established in 2017, Evie’s Night Owls has raised an amazing £177,000 to fund the provision of more than 7,000 nights of respite for families we support.

"We have loved working with Sam and Lee and their committee and wish them so much success in the next stage of the Evie’s Night Owls journey.”

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