Barretstown, the children’s charity in Co. Kildare that offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness, has issued an emergency appeal to the Irish public. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the charity has had to cancel many of its key fundraising events. These events provide crucial income for Barretstown which relies on the public to provide 98% of the funds that make their work possible. As a result, Barretstown’s income will be down by approximately 30%. There are currently over 8,000 children and family members on Barretstown’s waiting list.
Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on Barretstown, Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown, said: “Since we first opened our gates in 1994, we have brought the magic of Barretstown to over 60,000 campers. This year has been the hardest we have ever faced. We’ve done everything we can to bridge that gap by reducing our costs where possible and developing new fundraising initiatives. But it is still a major challenge. We are planning on restarting our full therapeutic camps and programmes in autumn and will be running extra camps, back to back to help support the staggering 8,000 children and family members now on our waiting list. However, to make these extra camps happen, we urgently need to raise vital funds by 25th July to counteract our income shortfall. To make that possible, we urgently need your help. If you can, please donate today and help us to Press Play on childhood via our website – www.Barretstown.org.”
For the past few months, the charity has been bringing their programmes to life through ‘Barretstown Live’ – an online interactive platform that livestreams the charity’s activities into homes nationwide. The Barretstown team has created a specially designed studio onsite to deliver these programmes. The broadcasts take place every week to families who were due to come to the Barretstown site, to children isolated in hospital and to children who were due to attend Barretstown’s summer programmes.
Speaking about her experience over the past few months, Barretstown mum Ashley Keenan, said: “My little boy Isaac suffers from a rare, undiagnosed life-threatening genetic condition. He has a compromised immune system which means he gets ill very easily. So, you can imagine how stressful the Covid-19 pandemic has been for me, Isaac, his dad, Dean and his big sister, Madison. The whole family was due to go to Barretstown for camp in March, we were all so excited. Barretstown is a place where childhood comes alive. It was a real blow when camp was postponed, but we understood why the decision was made. Barretstown didn’t leave us disappointed for long, they brought camp to us with the Barretstown Live programme. We all had so much fun, we genuinely forgot what was going on outside our home. While Barretstown Live was great – it is not as good as the full Barretstown experience. We need Barretstown now more than ever.”
Last year, Barretstown served over 9,000 campers affected by serious illness and their families. Members of the public can support Barretstown by visiting: www.Barretstown.org.