Corporate Partnerships Manager Georgie recently had the opportunity to shadow Shelly, one of our Family Support Workers at CHSF, as she visited families currently staying on the children’s heart ward (L51).

Shelly’s crucial role is only made possible by generous donations from our amazing supporters. In this blog, we delve into a typical day for Shelly and discover the significant impact our family support service has on heart families…

“Today, before I started work, I got given the date for my two year old’s ENT surgery appointment.”

“My son, Louis, has been struggling with his speech and language development, which we now know is due to a glue ear issue, that can be corrected with grommets.”

“He will be given a general anaesthetic for this routine operation, which is very common among young children.”

“As much as I want him to have this surgery because I know it will help him to be able to hear and communicate with us (I can’t wait for the day he finally says ‘mummy’!), I am also scared at the thought of him being put to sleep, and not having any control over this situation. I thought I was going to start crying when I saw the date written in black and white.”

“I then walked through our Children’s Heart Surgery Fund office doors and put my family life behind me to get to work, which today included spending time with our Family Support Worker, Shelly. We started our time together by visiting some of our young patients on the cardiac ward at the Leeds Children’s Hospital where babies and children recover from heart surgery.”

“We met a gorgeous 3-month-old baby who has been in hospital since the day she was born. Her mum was cradling her in her arms, careful not to disturb her vital feeding and medicine tubes. She told us she was due to have surgery last Friday, but this got cancelled because of an emergency situation and she is hoping she will have her open heart surgery this week.”

“Shelly was able to give the baby’s mum a Tesco voucher to help ease the financial burden of being in hospital 24/7, and thankfully CHSF have funded her a room in nearby accommodation at Eckersley House.

In this video, see some of the key areas around Leeds Children’s Hospital as well as hearing a bit more about the support CHSF provide families.

“I imagined myself in the mum’s situation and thought ‘how would I cope living in hospital every day waiting for a surgery date for my baby to be confirmed?‘. I think I would really struggle living day by day, waiting and wondering what will happen.”

“I know I’ll be thinking about Louis’s surgery for the next month, but at least I can distract myself with other things away from a hospital environment.”

“It made me realise again how valuable it is for CHSF to fund our Family Support Workers, like Shelly, because she is giving vital support for our young heart warriors and their families, making sure they have someone to talk to during this time, offering reassurance as well as direct emotional and practical support.”

If you or your business would be interested in working together to help CHSF keep funding our incredible Family Support Workers, like Shelly, I would love to hear from you at

Georgie Abbott
Corporate Partnerships Manager

Recruiting Corporate Partners across Yorkshire, The Humber, North East Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire who want to help improve the lives of children born with congenital heart defects.

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