New parents' lounge opens at Lister's neonatal unit after huge fundraising effort

Parents lounge at Lister Hospital in Stevenage

The new parents lounge at Lister Hospital has opened following years of fundraising - Credit: East and North Herts NHS Trust

A new parents' lounge and garden has been opened in the neonatal unit at Lister Hospital, thanks to an East and North Herts Hospitals' charity appeal which raised more than £360,000.

The ambitious fundraising project, entitled the ‘Lister Neonatal Big Build’, started life back in 2015 when the Lister Neonatal Unit Families Group – a group of parents who have shared experience of using the unit’s facilities with their own children – got permission to use an area of wild garden located next to original parents’ lounge.

The group’s chairman Glyn Doggett, whose son Max was born at Lister 12 weeks prematurely back in August 2013, remembers: “We originally wanted to just provide some more outdoor space for parents as the lounge facilities on offer could only seat six people and there was no room to make food or sit comfortably in there.

“Over time, and with the support of the hospital’s charity, the plan was changed – and we eventually got permission to build an extension to the small room.”

Eloise Huddleston, head of charity for the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity, said: “On behalf of the charity and neonatal unit staff, I would like to say a huge thank you to the Hertfordshire community for getting behind this project after we launched our appeal in 2018. The new facilities will make such a difference to parents who have babies needing special care.

“Thanks to our kind and generous supporters, we raised in excess of £360,000 to create a space much bigger than the original room and with additional facilities such as a kitchen, private garden, showers and a children’s play area.


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“This wouldn’t have been possible without help from donors, fundraisers, unit staff and the incredible Lister Neonatal Families Group who drove this project from the outset and raised an amazing amount of money with sponsored skydives, cycle rides, marathons and even spinathons!

“Parents using the unit often spend around 12 weeks visiting and looking after their babies, so we wanted to create facilities that provided a ‘home from home’.”

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Lister Neonatal Families Group member Lauren Paine, whose son Archie was born at Lister at 28 weeks back in 2008, said: “From my own experience this new lounge and kitchen will mean so much to parents with babies on the unit.

"It will mean that they can bring in their own lunch, store it safely in the fridge and eat it while being two minutes away from their baby – instead of having to leave the hospital to go home and get food and come all the way back again. It’s such a small thing, but it will make such a difference to parents.”

Hitchin resident Glyn added: “On behalf of the Lister Neonatal Families Group and neonatal unit, we want to thank all those who donated or gave their time to raise money for this project.

"This new build has been created by parents for parents and we hope it provides a place of rest and somewhere to pause and relax during what can be a very difficult time.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital has been unable to hold an opening ceremony, although staff hope to hold one later in the year. In the meantime, a video with images of the room and comments from those involved in the project has been produced and is available to watch on East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s YouTube channel.

If you would like to support East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity with future fundraising appeals visit www.enhhcharity.org.uk.

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