Momentum Children’s Charity
As Kingston-based Momentum Children’s Charity celebrates its 15th anniversary, we speak to founder Bianca Effemey about its invaluable support for children with cancer or a life-challenging condition, and its plans for the future
In 2004, Bianca Effemey was working in the Paediatric Department at Kingston Hospital and realised the difference small touches could make to seriously ill children and their families. She went on to found Momentum Children’s Charity, along with two parents, which today provides support to 150 families whose child is in treatment, ongoing support for bereaved parents, as well as New Forest holiday cabins and a river boat for respite breaks.
“To be celebrating our 15th anniversary is an absolute dream,” says Bianca. “It’s amazing to think back to how the charity started, with me sourcing a fridge-freezer for a little girl’s hospital room so that she could have ice lollies and cold drinks to help ease the terrible pain from ulcers in her mouth, resulting from chemotherapy. Today Momentum Children’s Charity provides so much to so many families.”
As well as support, the charity works to refurbish the hospital environment and has raised money to transform isolation and treatment rooms, waiting areas, gardens and more. Says Bianca: “Research has shown that the physical environment can have a big impact on the healing process and the refurbishments we have completed to date are testament to this. I have seen first-hand the impact a positive environment can have on the well-being of patients, their families, as well as for nursing staff.”
For 2019, the charity is aiming to raise £900,000 and is launching a special 15th anniversary appeal to help them achieve this ambitious goal. Part of the year’s plan are three big projects, including a major refurbishment project in Sunshine and Dolphin Children’s Ward at Kingston Hospital – updating and improving isolation and treatment rooms, waiting and play areas used by thousands of seriously ill children each year, including children with cancer. For this alone the charity needs to raise £75,000. The charity receives no government funding and relies on donations. To donate to the 15th anniversary appeal, visit www.moment-um.org/15appeal or text MO to 70800 to donate £5 (texts are charged at your standard network rate).
“To be celebrating our 15th anniversary is an absolute dream”
Adds Bianca: “We will be spending a lot of time in 2019 thanking everyone that has helped us and supported us over the years. We will be bringing together families we support, past and present employees, hospital partners and our fundraisers. We also have some fantastic events planned, including our Opera Night with Lesley Garrett on Sunday March 17 in Teddington, a black-tie Crystal Ball on the 11 May at the Hurlingham Club and plenty of sporting events and challenges.”
The charity has achieved so much in 15 years, and won several accolades, including Best Charity in the Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2016. We asked Bianca for her personal highlights: “Jacqueline Wilson, who has been our patron since 2006, has done a huge amount for the charity. I have very fond memories of her meeting children and signing books. One of the most memorable moments for me in 2018 was when Tom Holland, Spider-Man star and our patron, visited Kingston Hospital in the summer. To see smiles on the faces of so many children was overwhelming.”
But the best moments often come from the patients they have helped: “It’s incredibly touching when they take on fundraising challenges as a way of thanking us for the support we’ve given them or their family. One that sticks in my mind is Tudor, who we supported during his treatment. He chose to swim the channel and raised a staggering £16,000.”
As to the next five years, Bianca has some firm ambitions: “We want to bring the Momentum magic to even more families, growing our services and expanding into new geographical areas through partnerships with other, local hospitals. When we have reached 20 years old, I’d like to be telling people that we have partnered with four additional hospitals in the South of England (we currently support Kingston, Epsom, East Surrey, Croydon, St Peter’s and St George’s), grown our family support team and doubled the number of families we are supporting.”
Given its invaluable role, we wish the charity every success for the next 15 years and beyond.