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Samantha Cameron meets mothers of courage at children’s hospice

PUBLISHED: 12:17 19 June 2012

Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron meets Risa Balynas, from Bethnal Green, whose son  Miles (in wheelchair) receives help from the hospice

Prime Minister's wife Samantha Cameron meets Risa Balynas, from Bethnal Green, whose son Miles (in wheelchair) receives help from the hospice

Heathcliff O'Malley

Families from London’s East End have been telling the Prime Minister’s wife how their children’s hospice has been their lifeline.

Samantha Cameron visited east London’s Richard House Hospice yesterday at the start of Carers Week to meet parents of children with life threatening conditions.

She was given a tour of the facilities at Beckton including a specialist residential unit for children needing respite and palliative care.

Mrs Cameron spoke to some of the parents who get support from the hospice, including Risa Balynas whose son Miles is being cared for.

Risa , 46, from Parmiter Street in Bethnal Green, said: “I only found out about Richard House by my community nurse who spotted that I was about to fall apart and could do with respite.

“Miles uses the hospice for day-care, his older brother Lance uses it for the siblings’ film club and I use it for art therapy. It’s been a life line.”

Alison Smith, who set up the mum’s group which meets regularly at the hospice, has been bringing her 10-year-old daughter Cara to Richard House for eight years from their home in Kenilworth Road in Bow.

“Mrs Cameron was genuinely interested when Cara told her all about the film club,” said Alison.

“Being a parent of a child with long-term health conditions can be incredibly isolating and hard-going.

“We meet regularly, use art therapy and really keep each other sane.”

Gowhar Shaikh, who has been bringing 13-year-old Murad to Richard House for several years from their home at Heigham Road in East Ham, said: “Mrs Cameron as a mother of three could relate to our needs and saw first-hand how much the hospice really helps the whole family with ‘wrap around’ care.”

Richard House is running several events for parents throughout Carers Week, including healthy eating workshops and ‘pampering’ sessions.

It is one of the 1,800 places involved in the nationwide awareness campaign recognising the need for support for six-and-a-half million unpaid carers in Britain.

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