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Facts and figures

What we do

  • Acorns provides babies, children and young people aged 0 – 18 years who have life limiting or life threatening conditions and associated complex needs with a network of specialist palliative nursing care and support.
  • Eligibility for children is based on the four categories of life limiting or life threatening conditions as established by Together for Short Lives:
    • Conditions where curative treatment may fail
    • Conditions where premature death is inevitable
    • Progressive conditions without curative options
    • Irreversible conditions causing severe disability

Full details are in endnote[i].

Please do not use the phrases ‘terminally ill’ or ‘will not reach adulthood’

  • A holistic service meets the needs of both the children and young people and their families, including the bereaved. This includes short break provision; emergency and end of life care; therapeutic and psychosocial support; sibling services; and family support.
  • Acorns serves the areas of Birmingham, Coventry & Warwickshire, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire

The children and families we support

  • Last year[ii], Acorns supported 876 children and more than 1097 families, including those who are bereaved:
  • Acorns is currently supporting:
    • Over 270 children and around 360 families at Acorns in Birmingham[iii]
    • Over 230 children and over 290 families at Acorns in the Black Country[iv]
    • Over 220 children and more than 290 families at Acorns for the Three Counties[v]
  • An estimated 2,000 plus children in our catchment area meet our criteria (including those we are currently supporting)[vi]
  • On average, every month, seven of the children Acorns cares for will die[vii]
  • 39% of the children and families at Acorns are from BAME (Black, Asian Minority Ethnic) backgrounds
  • Around 3% of families Acorns supports have more than one child in the care of Acorns
  • 3% of the children Acorns cares for have cancer

Our facilities & services

Acorns undertakes a full holistic assessment, working with the family we are able to determine the outcomes they need to achieve for them and their child; and  support is then delivered in response to the individual needs of a child and their family. A package of care is tailored for each individual child which includes their medical, emotional, cultural, religious and spiritual needs. This package can be provided in the hospice, a family’s home or elsewhere in the community.

The hospices

  • Acorns has three children’s hospices:
    • Acorns in Birmingham (located in Selly Oak) opened in 1988 (the third children’s hospice in the world at the time)
    • Acorns in the Black Country (located in Walsall) opened in 1999
    • Acorns for the Three Counties (located in Worcester) opened in 2005
  • The hospices are purpose built with ten specially decorated bedrooms designed to cater for children and young people from birth to 18 years of age. They are designed to be a home-from-home environment to help children enjoy their stay and make the most of every day
  • On site hospice facilities include hydrotherapy pools and spas, multisensory rooms, complementary therapies, play and activity areas with up-to-date IT equipment and landscaped gardens
  • Special adolescent wings ensure privacy and a managed level of independence for older children.
  • Separate on-site accommodation for families allows them to stay with their child if they wish.
  • The hospices have ‘special bedrooms’ in a separate area within the building where children can stay after they have died until their funeral.

 Acorns services

  • On acceptance to Acorns every family will receive an assessment of their needs. This will be undertaken by a professional who has a health or social care background.  They will work with the family to determine the services that will best meet their needs at the current time and agree a plan of care and support that may include: psychosocial support, advocacy, short breaks in the hospice or at home, sibling support and a range of support groups for all members of the family. End of life care and bereavement support will be available whenever is it needed and all families will have access to emergency support via the hospices 24 hours a day.
  • Each hospice has a team comprising:
    • Registered children’s nurses
    • Health care assistants (HCAs)
    • Physiotherapists
    • G.P. (supported by the Acorns Paediatric Consultant )
    • Family team workers
    • Volunteer coordinators
    • Adolescent workers
    • Transition workers
    • Sibling workers
    • Administrative, housekeeping and kitchen team
    • Trained volunteers
  • Care is provided during a hospice stay (whether this is a planned short break, emergency or end of life care) including:
    • Personal care
    • Medical support
    • Symptom management
    • Pain control
    • Physiotherapy including hydrotherapy
    • Complementary therapies
    • Play and activities including creative sessions/workshops such as art and craft, music, drama, puppet shows and dance
    • Access to IT equipment, toys, books, CDs and DVDs
  • An outreach team of nurses and volunteers is also able to offer support to families within their home.
  • Acorns’ Children, Young People and Sibling Service, provide a therapeutic based service to address the social and emotional wellbeing needs of young people from the age of 10 upwards and siblings. The service comprises a dedicated siblings team (currently supporting around 320 siblings) and a separate adolescent team, with support being provided for young people and siblings through focused groups, individual therapeutic based sessions and bespoke programmes, according to assessed need. 
  • The adolescent team work closely with Acorns’ Transition team, supporting young people aged 14+ to develop life skills through a programme of ‘Preparation for Adulthood’ workshops and linking them into adult services in preparation for when they leave children’s services.  Over 130 young people aged 14+ are currently being cared for by Acorns.
  • Acorns runs a programme of specialist support groups for:
    • Grandparents
    • Bereaved parents
    • Parents & carers
    • Siblings
    • Dads/men
    • Mums
    • Asian mothers
  • These bring together those in similar situations, reducing isolation and helping develop resilience, self-esteem and a sense of identity.

Governance, regulation and representation

  • Acorns is an independent charity managed by an appointed chief executive and a senior management team who are accountable to a board of trustees.
  • A number of formal groups including parents, carers and young people provide regular feedback and input into how services are delivered and can be improved to better meet needs. These include:
    • Young Ambassadors
    • Parent Carer Champions
    • Siblings Council
  • Care services are regulated and audited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC)
  • Acorns is registered with the Fundraising Regulator (FR) – the regulator for fundraising in the UK
  • Acorns is a member of Together for Short Lives– The UK voice for children and young people who are not expected to reach adulthood and their families
  • Acorns is a member of Hospice UK (formerly known as Help the Hospices) – the national charity for hospice care


  • It costs almost £10million a year to run our care services in the hospices and community, providing care for the child and support for families.
  • It costs around £850 to provide a nurse-led 24 hour palliative care short break in the hospice.
  • Acorns relies heavily on the community to fund the majority of its activities. 
  • Income from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and other statutory bodies represents a contribution of around 40% towards the total cost of our care services;
  • Our last set of audited accounts[viii] show that:
    • 89p in every £1 we spent went on charitable activities (i.e. care services);
    • we raised £5.79 of income for every £1 we spend on non-charitable activities (i.e. fundraising); and,
    • we generated £1.1 million net profit by selling mainly donated goods in our network of  shops that extends right across our region.
  • Acorns has a retail chain of over 50 shops and a Distribution Centre based in Mucklow Hill, Halesowen.
  • Acorns participates in two lotteries: TLC in Birmingham and the Hospices Lottery in Worcestershire.
  • Acorns is part of Childlife, a fundraising partnership between four charities working with children, young people and their families throughout the UK

 Our people

  • Acorns employs around 400 staff in its three hospices, network of shops and head office[ix].
  • Acorns has over 1,600 active volunteers[x] who work in all areas of the organisation[xi]
    • Around 435 in the hospices (135+ in the Black Country, 160+ in the Three Counties, 150+ in Birmingham)
    • Over 200 in fundraising and events
    • Around 1,000 in our retail shops

Document last updated July 2017

[1] Eligibility criteria (as outlined by Together for Short Lives)



  • Category 1

Life-threatening conditions for which curative treatment may be feasible but can fail

Access to palliative care services may be necessary when treatment fails or during an acute crisis, irrespective of the duration of threat to life. On reaching long-term remission or following successful curative treatment there is no longer a need for palliative care services.

Examples: cancer, irreversible organ failures of heart, liver, kidney.

  • Category 2

Conditions where premature death is inevitable. There may be long periods of intensive treatment aimed at prolonging life and allowing participation in normal activities.

Examples: cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

  • Category 3

Progressive conditions without curative treatment options. Treatment is exclusively palliative and may commonly extend over many years.

Examples: batten disease, mucopolysaccharidoses.

  • Category 4

Irreversible but non-progressive conditions causing severe disability, leading to susceptibility to health complications and likelihood of premature death.

Examples: severe cerebral palsy, multiple disabilities, such as following brain or spinal cord injury, complex health care needs, high risk of an unpredictable life-threatening event of episode.

[1] From 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017



[1] As of 31 May 2017



[1]  As of 31 May 2017



[1] As of 31 May 2017



[1] Leeds University study with Martin House Children’s Hospice in Yorkshire and The Children’s Hospital, Cardiff, published in the Journal of Paediatrics Volume 129, Number 4, April 2012



[1] In the year to 30 April 2017 81 children passed away.



[1] Financial figures are based on 2015/16 accounts as reported in Impact Report – available online at



[1] As of 30 April 2017



[1] As of 30 April 2017



[1] Volunteers may cross over different areas of the organisation.



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