How is the charity structured?
The charity is managed by a central hub in Gloucester, which handles the overarching planning, decisions, finances, etc., but Heart Heroes is made up of seven hubs all over Southern England and Wales. The charity now has subsidiary hubs in Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Bristol, Devon, Cornwall, and Wales.
What is the need for other hubs?
The other hubs work to alleviate some of the pressure from the central hub in Gloucester, by providing the exact same charity work, only for a specific region. This means that families can get more local support, enabling shorter commute times to meet ups, and letting the families build a camaraderie in an area closer to them. Furthermore, the meetups then occur in smaller groups which ensure that families and their Heart Children do not feel overwhelmed and are not presented with so many people that they cannot create an effective and close-knit support group.
How are these hubs run?
All work done in local hubs is by volunteers, who are passionate about the cause of the charity and believe in it so much that they are willing to give up their free time to see to it that families get the support they need. These volunteers in specific regions have an additional benefit in that they can get to know the families far better than a central hub could, and allow families to form deeper connections with the charity, and get help and support on a more personal and tailored basis.
What can I do at my local hub?
The charity organises monthly meetups, run by volunteers, for the families at each hub: at these meetups, the parents of the Heart Child can enjoy some coffee and cake, while the children do what children do best – go and play with one another. It offers a genuine and authentic chance for families going through similar ordeals to come together and talk about their experiences with others, offering help and advice to each other. For some children, particularly those who are of the pre-school age, it is their only chance to interact with other children while the pandemic rages on and can be invaluable to developing social skills and awareness. As the children get older, they can continue their friendships and support each other through whatever challenges the future of their health and illnesses may present them with.
How are these hubs financed?
Well, that’s where you come in. It should come as no surprise that they are expensive to run, and we need continued support from generous donors to ensure that families can still get access to the support, no matter what form it comes in or how little it seems, that assists them with what is a very difficult stage of their lives. Parents are renowned worriers, but the parents of children with congenital heart diseases are even more so: they have the added stress of the illness hanging over them at all times, trying to remember various medications and ‘dos & don’ts’. Local hubs must pay for things like venue hire, storage of equipment and toys, and providing refreshments to make these experiences and meaningful and helpful as possible for the people they strive to help.
How can I help?
As always, any donation to the charity, big or small, is an enormous help and has tremendous value to us: your money will always go to funding projects like these meetups. However, with the addition of more schemes like providing days-out for the hubs post-COVID restrictions, we are really looking for further support for our hubs. Because the hubs are very much a local community effort, it would be great if we could get some local businesses on board, who could perhaps sponsor these events with their charity days at work. Doing this means that the families can feel cared for by the community, and that businesses who are considering their next charity have a direct hand in helping with projects in their ‘back garden’. If you belong to one of said businesses who are interested in directly helping their local community, you can get in touch with the charity by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .