80% of Irish adults feel that spending time with family this Christmas is more important than any material gifts.

Barretstown, the children’s charity in Co. Kildare that offers free, specially designed therapeutic programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness has found that it is not what is underneath the Christmas Tree that matters, it is the people around it. A survey conducted by the children’s charity in partnership with Coyne Research has confirmed what Barretstown families have always know, spending time with family is what is most important, especially at Christmas.

Key insights include:
• 80% of all adults agree that spending time with family this Christmas is more important than receiving any material gifts.
• Three quarters or Irish adults say the year 2020 has reminded them of the importance of spending time with family
• Over three quarters of Irish adults claim that this Christmas, family is their number one priority.
• After a difficult year, over half of Irish adults claim they will donate to a charitable cause this Christmas.

Speaking about their Christmas Appeal, Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown, said: “This year especially, many of us will be looking forward to some quality family time together at Christmas. If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us all, it is that family and health are the most important things we could ask for. We continue to support and serve seriously ill children and their families through our virtual Barretstown Live programmes. The majority of the families we serve have been experiencing a prolonged isolation period due to their child’s serious health condition. This Christmas will be particularly difficult for them as they shield away from extended family and friends. At Barretstown we see that family really does mean so much, particularly at Christmas time. This year we are asking the Irish public to visit to donate or visit our online shop to support Barretstown in any way they can.

To overcome Covid-19 restrictions Barretstown has been offering its programmes virtually through Barretstown Live, an online interactive platform. Covid-19 has highlighted the need for virtual programming as another means to serve their campers. It has also enabled Barretstown to support new campers, who would have been unable to come to Barretstown by themselves, even prior to Covid-19, due to the complexities of their medical needs.

Speaking about her experience, Barretstown mum Paula Cahill, said: “Christmas time has always brought up many memories for me. It was Christmas 2016 that my son Tom Tom was in Crumlin hospital battling with cancer for the second time. Throughout the Christmas period he was in a critical condition and there were days when I did not know what the morning would bring. I would walk by shopfronts with expensive gifts on display and would think to myself there was only one gift I truly wanted, that was for Tom Tom to be better. On Christmas Day while my husband went home to Cork to be with our other sons Jack and Charlie, I stayed in hospital with Tom Tom. It was the most utterly miserable Christmas any of us could have ever imagined, not even Santa was allowed in the room for infection control.”

“Now I'm really looking forward to a happy family Christmas. Ever since Tom Tom spent that awful Christmas in Crumlin, we understand that the real meaning of Christmas. It is not what is underneath the Christmas tree that matters, it is who is around it with you. The greatest gift is that we are all together and we are all healthy.''

Due to the Covid-19 crisis the charity has had to cancel many of its key fundraising events. These events provide crucial income for Barretstown which relies on the public to provide 98% of the funds that make their work possible. As a result, Barretstown’s income will be down by approximately 30% in 2020. There are currently over 8,000 children and family members waiting to be served.

Last year, Barretstown served over 9,500 campers affected by serious illness and their families. Members of the public can support Barretstown by visiting:

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