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A word from Toby Porter, Acorns Chief Executive

At Acorns, we rely on the skills, experience, commitment and compassion of our wonderful staff and volunteers to deliver services to the high standards we set ourselves. I extend my heartfelt thanks to each of you for the care you provide, and for allowing Acorns as a charity to have the impact on children and families detailed in this report.

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I am so proud to be Chief Executive of Acorns.This is a genuinely special charity, with deep roots into the communities where we work,
loved and respected because people know our care really does make a huge difference to the children and families that we reach. I hope the quality of the care we provide can be seen in the testimonies in this report.

We are currently working with more children than at any time in our almost 30 year history, and we anticipate demand for the services we
provide at our three hospices and in families’ homes will continue to grow. At a time of obvious strain on the public purse, and with
many services and centres being cut back, it is just wonderful that our partners and supporters, and the customers in our charity
shops, allow us at Acorns to still be there for the kids and the families that need us.

I hope that our Impact Report will inspire you to continue to engage with and support Acorns. 

How we make every day count

  • 4,674 visits made to families in their own homes
  • 308,000 hours volunteered across the region
  • 7,688 short residential stays provided to life limited children
  • 1 CQC Outstanding, 2 CQC Good with outstanding features
  • Last year we supported 876 children and more than 1,097 families including those who are bereaved
  • 97% describe our services as very good
  • 57 shops
  • 3 hospices – Birmingham, Black Country and Three Counties
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“We saw the children and young people we met were happy and relaxed in the company of staff. Parents told us they were very happy that staff kept their child safe when working with them within their own home or the hospice.”
CQC Report 2016

To read the full CQC reports for each hospice please click the links below:


Making every day count for our children


When Malachi was six weeks old, he contracted a severe chest infection and was rushed to hospital. His family were given the news that would change their lives; Malachi had suffered permanent brain damage.

Malachi’s mum, Laine said: “If there was no Acorns, it isn’t just Malachi that would miss out, but the whole family would miss out. They support all of us.”

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Malachi’s mum Laine said: “we were quite nervous about going to Acorns. People said things like ‘oh no, not a hospice’. But it was
nothing like we expected.”“He loves spending time in the multi sensory room, he loves seeing the lights and coloured bubbles and experiencing the textures of
different toys. The textured toys give him that sensory feedback that you don’t get with normal, everyday toys.”

“I am always happy with the care my son receives and have peace of mind when he stays at Acorns.”

Malachi is now a lively three year old with a cheeky sense of humour and although he’s limited physically in many ways, Acorns helps
him do some of the things he loves!


When Amjid’s son Subhan was born, he was diagnosed with Joubert’s syndrome, a rare brain disorder which causes varying degrees of physical, mental and sometimes visual impairments.

Due to the complexity of his condition, Subhan needed a nurse with him at all times. Acorns provided the family Hospice at Home, a service available to families in the Black Country. 

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“Staff would come in the morning, help get him dressed, changed, make all the checks and medications he needed, get him to school,
bring him back and put him to bed. Then at 9pm the night staff would come in until 7am, so there was always someone with Subhan to
look after him and make sure he was breathing properly. Nothing compares to Acorns service. It’s a first class, exceptional service.”

In November last year, aged just seven, Subhan sadly passed away. A few months before he died Subhan designed a Christmas card which was for sale in our shops.


Arthur suffers from NKH which is a rare genetic disorder that affects one child in every 76,000 born. Children with this condition have a problem breaking down the amino acid glycine.

Charlene, Arthur’s mum said “we had a perfect pregnancy, after Arthur was born we noticed he wasn’t feeding properly, I’d never heard him cry, never seen his eyes open and he was really, really floppy. After three days at home we were rushed back to hospital.”

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“He was put on a ventilator and after 10 days we were given the news he had NKH and that he only had weeks to live. Arthur was two months old when we came to Acorns, for end of life care.”

“I don’t know if relief is the right word, but it was a relief to get to Acorns, to get away from the hospital. Arthur’s dad Ashley and his sister Ellie came and stayed with us so we were together as a family.”

“As time went on we could be a normal family at Acorns, we were able to go out with Arthur, go swimming with him, make as many memories as we possibly could.“

“If Acorns didn’t exist I dread to think where we’d be.”

Making every day count for our parents

Ritchie was just 16 months old when his family received the devastating news that he had the life limiting condition, spinal muscular atrophy type 2.

Ritchie’s mum Donna said “Acorns has been an absolute godsend to us. It just gives us a little bit of a break and we know Ritchie
is in good hands.”

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We offer support for the whole family including Mums group/Dads group and Grandparents groups.

We provide ongoing emotional support including pre and post bereavement support. In 2016/17 we delivered 2,752 face to face support sessions.                                                                                                                         

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Complementary therapy

An Acorns parent said “at my first appointment I went in I wasn’t sure if it was going to help or not I was so down beaten and exhausted, not sleeping properly.

“After one session I felt better, and after 6 weeks so far I’m a completely different person than before, I couldn’t thank my therapist enough. My back pain is so much better and now much more comfortable and manageable.”

What our families say

100% of families feel there is a welcoming atmosphere, with a clean environment and they are treated with respect and dignity. 

97% of young people feel they are made comfortable, staff do everything to help and they can be themselves.

100% of children feel they are able to be themselves.

We ask families for their feedback on our service, these are the survey responses from 2016 – 17.

Making every day count for our families

The work of the Children, Young People and Sibling service is led by the needs of our young people and siblings but acknowledges that support needs to be family-centred. Our work includes a range of age-specific groups based on assessed need. These include, bespoke adolescent stays and youth clubs, residential opportunities, magazine design and production, group outings, arts projects and specialist individual support.

“Acorns makes you feel like you’re not alone and you can talk to someone.” An Acorns sibling

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In recognition of the unique needs of bereaved siblings we also hold residential opportunities to support brothers and sisters to move
forward on their bereavement journey. Over the course of the programme, we work with siblings attending to help explore their feelings
and to find ways of talking to others about their experience and telling their “story”.

Click here to find out more about our sibling support services.


Making every day count our health care professionals

Dr Mark Hunter, Acorns Consultant Paediatrician

“Parents don’t expect a child to die before they do. Acorns provides support to those given this unimaginable news.”

“Acorns provides experience. We have supported children and families for nearly 30 years. We use this experience to support families and professionals who may be making this journey for the first time.”

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“Acorns provides expertise. We have staff from a range of professional backgrounds with skills in all aspects of palliative care. Discussions that are often described as ‘difficult’ because they touch upon mortality are something we do almost daily with empathy and

“We manage complex symptoms around the end of life with the input of skilled nurses and doctors.”

“Acorns provides choice. Many children spend long periods in hospital with restrictions of routine and environment. We can be almost
completely flexible. A family can choose where they want to be, hospice or home, bedroom or garden and decide what is important for them.”

“At a time when the need for high quality palliative care has never been so clearly expressed, Acorns is making a difference and
must make a bigger difference into the future.”

A day in the life of our nurses…

Making every day count our partnerships

At Acorns we have a wide range of wonderful partnerships from across the West Midlands who help us with donations, equipment or time.

Heavenly’s mum Kelly said “The Lifelites iPad has made such a difference to Heavenly’s life. I could go on forever about how important this tech is to her; the whole family can use it to communicate and play with her. 

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“Heavenly is unable to speak, and over the years she has used a range of different communication tools but once she started using the iPad suddenly she was a completely different child. It has given her so much confidence.”

Lifelites provide free of charge assistive and inclusive technologies at all three of our hospices.

Making every day count our volunteers

Our volunteers are such an important aspect of the care we offer at Acorns.

We are especially proud that our volunteers are integrated across and at the front of so many of our services, from our 57 shops to the three hospices, and across our support functions and in community outreach – thank you.

For every 4 hours of volunteer time we receive we are able to pay for an hour of nursing care in our hospice.

Making every day count our supporters

We receive some statutory funding but the vast majority of the cost of our care is funded through voluntary donations. We are very grateful for the support we receive from supporters who take part in events and fundraise for us, donate regularly to us, shop in our shops or support us with one off donations or legacies – thank you. 

“With your help, we can plan with confidence for a future where we will always be there for any child that needs us” Toby Porter, Chief Executive.

Financial summary

“Managing the tensions between what we need to spend to care for all the children and young people in our area who need our services and what we can afford to spend involves some difficult decisions that fall to our Executive Director team and the Trustees.”

“We are focused on delivering high quality services to as many children and their families as possible. We manage our spending very carefully to ensure our long term financial stability”. Sonia Rees, Finance Director

Surplus for the year after change in investment asset values 

Total Income 


Less Total Expenditure 

-£11, 209,000

Plus gains on investment assets 


Surplus for the year 



Total funds at start of year


Surplus for the year


Total funds at end of year


The summary financial information on this page is an extract of our audited annual report and accounts for 2016-17. It is a simplified summary of our sources of income and our spending. If you would like more detail about how we did last year, our governance arrangements and our plans for the future, our annual report and accounts is available by clicking here.

Thank you to all our supporters

A special thank you to all our dedicated volunteers, the children, young people and families who agreed to share their stories and images in our impact report.

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