What’s to come in 2019 – Project update

2019 is well underway and here at Rockinghorse, we are working to fund a range...

2019 is well underway and here at Rockinghorse, we are working to fund a range of projects to support sick and disadvantaged children, babies and young people in Sussex.

We are best-known as the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, and a vital supporter of the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) and its sister site, the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Haywards Heath.

But that’s not all we do…through our fundraising, we’ve pledged support for paediatric services and children’s centres all over the county thanks to the Sussex Giving for Sussex Children initiative. We aim to fund projects which focus on improving children’s physical and emotional well-being, while providing additional support for parents and carers.

Below, we’ve listed projects that we’re currently fundraising for and have split them in to two sections; one for the Equipment we’re aiming to provide, and one for the additional Services we’re aiming to fund. To find out more about all of our projects, please click here.


Physio equipment for the Alex

As part of our ongoing commitment to the Alex, we’re funding equipment for the physiotherapy department to help improve the quality, comfort and enjoyment of the therapy care they offer.

The physio department at the Alex already see hundreds of outpatients every year and the demand on physiotherapists is high. The equipment we aim to purchase, such as postural items, will increase the number of children who can be treated on site, decrease waiting times, improve staff efficiency, and help reduce the pain and discomfort of young patients.

Whoopsadaisy equipment and sensory items

Whoopsadaisy is a small, Brighton charity helping children with physical disabilities live their life as independently as possible. The service provides weekly under 5’s groups, Saturday sessions and holiday clubs for 5 to 12-year-olds. Last year we funded two new pieces of specialist equipment and this year, we have pledged to fund more.

Using the Conductive Education of learning Whoopsadaisy helps children with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders to build their physical, social and communication skills. They will use the equipment we fund to improve the children’s experience of, and their progress within, their groups, sessions and clubs.

The equipment will also help staff to respond to the children’s changing physical and sensory needs and to help them achieve their goals of improved mobility, confidence and independence, with around 40 children benefiting from the new equipment.

As part of this project, we aim to fund custom-made pieces of equipment that can attach/detach to furniture to meet the children’s growing needs, a trike to help children whose legs are severely affected by their disability, and a range of sensory equipment in order to offer a wider variety of sensory stimulation to help motivate the children and encourage their physical progress.


Neonatal HSV Research

We’re funding a research project looking at the impact of the Herpes Simplex Virus disease (HSV) in infants younger than 90 days of age. Led by Dr Katy Fidler, Consultant Paediatrician in Infectious Diseases at the Alex, doctors are keen to further research the devastating disease which has a high mortality rate in neonatals.

HSV causes many different types of infections and illnesses and is very common in adults and children, when it can often cause a cold sore. However, neonatal HSV makes a newborn baby very sick. It is a rare but devastating disease and many babies affected can die or will suffer from long-term neurological problems.

The study we’re funding will provide key information about the number of cases in the UK, determine which babies are most at risk and how the risks can be reduced. Their research will also look at how current treatments can be improved to achieve better outcomes for babies who have contracted the disease through their mother during pregnancy or at the time the baby is born.

TMBU Heartbeat Research

At the time of delivery of a baby, midwives and neonatal staff listen to a baby’s heart to monitor its heart rate to ensure the baby adapts well to a life outside the womb. Listening and detecting a newborn’s heart beat can be difficult, especially if the heart rate is low and the baby is poorly and needs breathing support.

At present, a technique called pulse oximetry is used to detect a baby’s heart rate and oxygen saturation in the blood. The device uses a light sensor which is wrapped around a baby’s hand or foot and can take around a minute to pick up a good signal if the heart rate is normal – although this can be difficult to obtain if the heart rate is very low.

Together with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH), we are funding a research project enabling consultants at the TMBU to test an innovative heart rate monitoring device that will assist midwives and neonatal staff to measure the heart rate during the baby’s first minute of life. The device is based upon Electric Potential Sensing (EPS) technology which will provide a non-invasive, reliable and quick to administer solution to measure the heart rate of a baby.

Therapeutic Horse Riding at Chailey

Chailey Heritage Foundation is a pioneering charity in East Sussex, dedicated to enriching the lives of young people with complex physical disabilities and health needs. Chailey creates possibilities for children and young people with complex disabilities, allowing them to access and experience things which they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. Services provided include a special school, residential facilities, transitioning services, a therapeutic care farm and therapeutic horse riding.

In 2017 during our 50th anniversary year, we provided £50,000 of funding to Chailey for the D.R.E.A.M. Centre Appeal – a huge all-weather indoor activity centre where children and young people can take part in sport related activities. This year, we are pledging our support to Chailey once again, by funding their specialist therapeutic horse-riding programme.

The aim of the project is to provide an educational and fun activity for the young people at Chailey. Using the movement of the horse, they are able to integrate physical activities and therapy into young people’s day in a unique way. The programme can support a wide spectrum of children with complex physical disabilities and health needs.

26 young people from the school are currently able to ride regularly, with more who are keen to start, and sessions are in high demand. The additional funding we’re providing will mean that Chailey can run extra sessions to offer therapeutic riding to more pupils.

Chalkhill Activity Days

We’re supporting Heads On by providing funding for activity days to benefit young people at Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). We’ve supported Chalkhill for a number of years now through the Rockinghorse Activities Programme. Each year we provide funding for young people at Chalkhill to benefit from activities-based projects which runs alongside the unit’s clinical and educational programme.

This year we’ve also pledged to provide funding specifically for activity days in a woodland setting. This project aims to bring together 13-20-year-olds with severe mental health difficulties in a supported environment, so that they can learn a range of wood craft skills at an outdoor site in Lewes.

The aim of the project is to bring out individual strengths, encourage self-confidence and inspire young patients to feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Key to the young people’s recovery is building positive self-image through involvement and engagement with new things – many of which we take for granted – to help them in their recovery journey.

In six months of the project, it is hoped that 72 young people can be supported in dealing with the physical or mental challenge they face. Their severe mental health challenges can lead to behaviours such as avoidance of social contact and falling into self-defeating mindsets. The project will enable patients to participate in an outdoor experience in order to increase their mental health, well-being and social network.

Yoga project at the Alex

We’re funding a Yoga Project to offer weekly sessions to young people with chronic medical conditions. The regular yoga sessions will actively engage young people aged 12-18-years-old in developing their resources and skills in self-care, managing anxiety and stress in relation to their medical condition. The sessions have been developed in consultation with young patients and a range of professionals so that it can meet the specific needs of participants.

Initial feedback shows that the yoga sessions are an effective way to increase physical activity, gain strength, flexibility and balance. The sessions have also proven to help with stress and anxiety, leaving young patients to feel supported and more resilient. Due to the complexity of the medical conditions of some of the young patients, a trauma sensitive yoga approach has been developed.

Kangaroos Club and Holiday Playscheme

Kangaroos is a charity based in Mid Sussex that was founded in 1994. It provides a range of fun, inclusive social and leisure activities in the local community for children and young adults with learning disabilities as well as additional physical, sensory, medical and behavioural difficulties. The charity provides activities and social opportunities so that children and young people can fulfil their emotional, social, cognitive and physical needs.

We’ve pledged to support Kangaroos by providing funding for the PALS (Play, Activities, Laughter and Support) Saturday Club and Holiday Playscheme. The PALS project runs throughout the year and offers a range of activities to children aged 6 to 12 years-old with severe learning disabilities.

The majority of children with learning disabilities are unable to access mainstream activities and do not usually get opportunities to spend time with their friends outside school. PALS provides a social and recreational opportunity in a safe and structured environment, supported by experienced, qualified staff and young volunteers,

Activities vary from days at Kangaroos as well as trips to a wide range of venues, and they also offer overnight stays during school holidays and half-term breaks. They support more than 60 children with a vast range of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, complex visual and hearing impairments, limited mobility and profound communication difficulties.

The Mind Clinic

This year, we’ve pledged to provide funding for a service called The Mind Clinic to benefit staff at both hospitals. The Mind Clinic provides counselling services and pastoral care that staff can access in work time or when they are off duty. The purpose of the clinic is to provide a non-performance related counselling service that is freely available to approximately 149 doctors, nurses and non-clinical staff who work at the frontline of the NHS.