An appeal has been launched to raise £60,000 to refurbish four parents' bedrooms in the neonatal unit at Stevenage's Lister Hospital.

In partnership with the Lister Neonatal Unit Families Group, the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals' Charity wants to create a 'home from home' for parents whose babies are too poorly to go home straight away.

A spokesperson for the charity explained: "These rooms are used by families whose babies are nearly ready to go home after having treatment on the neonatal unit.

"After being in hospital it can be daunting to care for a baby at home. To support families before they go home, we offer them a room on the neonatal unit. The room has a bed, cot and bathroom and is designed to be like their bedroom at home, but with the neonatal team nearby for support.

"Staying in these rooms help parents feel much more confident for when their baby is well enough to be discharged.

"The rooms are also used by parents whose babies are still on the ward in special or intensive care, so they can stay close to their baby.

"We have four of these rooms, and whilst fit for purpose, they were last updated many years ago and they now feel quite dated and are too clinical."

The charity says £15,000 per room will help transform the spaces into rooms that feel much more like home, with new flooring, wallpaer, blinds, lighting and furniture.

Mum Charlie spent 10 days on the neonatal unit with her son, after he was born pre-term. When she was allocated a parents' room to stay, she said she "felt a huge sense of relief".

She said: "The room was a haven, an oasis of peace and a place to gather myself and have some privacy during the hardest times. It bridged the gap between hospital and home, and despite the rooms being less than glamorous and in need of restoration, I felt lucky because I could be close to the one person I needed to be close to.

"The planned improvements will make such a difference to parents in need of a sanctuary - a comforting cocoon and a positive space to nurture themselves and their babies before they are able to return home."

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