‘Acorns literally lifted me up from rock bottom’

This Leap Year, Acorns Children’s Hospice is calling on the local community to help us make sure our lifeline care and support never stops. We are urging people to leap into action to help cover the costs of the extra day of care on 29 February. Dudley Mum Sam Barklam reveals how making your extra day count will help local families like hers.

“I’ll never forget that first visit from Acorns, it was just like an angel was coming to help me.”

For mum Sam, the visit came at a time when the world was crashing down. Her own mum had passed away, her marriage was ending, and her baby boy Alex had been diagnosed with a life threatening condition.

“I was just so frightened,” she said. “Those first 12 months were the worst in my entire life. I don’t know how I made it through.”

Today, Alex is a cheeky and affectionate four-year-old – he loves frogs and frog noises and enjoys watching the neighbourhood dogs going for a walk.

Alex has Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome, a rare genetic condition, that affects the organs and can cause severe intellectual and behavioural difficulties.

Sam’s referral to Acorns came at the perfect time. She had been going weeks without proper sleep, juggling home life, caring for Alex and looking after young daughter Elisabeth, below right with Acorns Sibling Worker Jess.

Sam said: “I didn’t believe that there were actually people out there that could help me. I genuinely don’t know what I’d have done without Acorns. I didn’t know how much longer I would have been able to live like that. They literally lifted me up from rock bottom.”

Sam’s first visit to Acorns in the Black Country was an experience she describes as ‘simply amazing’.

“It just took away all the pressures of the life and gave me a break,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like a hospice, and it’s so comforting when you get there. All the staff who work there are amazing, and they’re always so friendly and kind.”

Now Acorns is an important part of the family.

“Acorns has helped me in all aspects; emotionally, physically and mentally. They got involved when I was at my absolute lowest and was physically and mentally exhausted. They just scooped me up and helped get me back on the straight and narrow. They are brilliant,” she added.

While the future for Alex is uncertain, Sam is determined to ‘make the most of every single day’; and with the help of Acorns, they’ll do just that.

It costs £30,000 each day to provide Acorns lifeline care and support for families like Sam’s. This Leap Year, make your extra day count by helping us ensure our care never takes a day off.

We need to raise an additional day’s funding to cover the cost of its services on 29 February.  

With your help, we can make sure families caring for a child with a life limiting or life threatening condition never face their journey alone – not just this Leap Day, but every day.  

Visit acorns.org.uk/extraday