New Look Little Havens Opens for Children

A major refurbishment – donated entirely for free – improving the experience of children being cared for by Little Havens Hospice has been officially opened by the youngsters who inspired the renovation.

The four-week, £100,000 project at Little Havens Hospice in Thundersley was undertaken by Loop Interiors at zero cost to the charity. Based in London but with links to Essex, Loop Interiors arranged the design, decorating, furniture and fittings to be donated by 16 companies, together with the time, creative and resource of Loop Interiors construction teams, and in excess of 55 individual contractors.

Loop Interiors decided to form a Charity Committee with the aim of giving something back and set to work finding a cause. They were already aware of Little Havens, as a friend of the Director uses the hospice. The parents wrote a compelling letter that convinced the Loop Charity Committee of Little Havens being a worthy cause.

Loop started the process by meeting various members of Havens Hospices – Fundraisers, Facilities Team, Care Team and parents who use Little Havens. Staff from Loop visited on a regular basis to establish how Little Havens cares for its children and families and how they could help improve this experience.

Claire Ambrose, Head of Loop Charity Committee says,

“Our team of designers gathered as much information, anecdotes and stories as possible from the Care Team and families to help identify the challenges, but also shape the concepts and solutions to enhance Little Havens as a welcoming, fun and caring environment.

“Everyone involved in this project, from the design team to the builders and tradespeople, have fully immersed themselves in the cause and we’ve always kept the children and families at the forefront of every decision. Some of the guys left their ‘desk’ jobs and went back ‘on the tools’ – that’s how inspired and passionate the entire team became during the project.

“We had such a tight deadline because, even though the hospice stayed open, we were conscious of completing the work before the Thanksgiving Service in June so we cannot say thank you enough to every company that made this happen, giving their time, materials and expertise for free.”

The theme is ‘Woodland Fairytale’ which gives a nod to the original woodland theme of the hospice and its setting but updates the tired interior of the building. The areas refurbished are the reception, lounge/dining room, the Woodland Suite (the bereavement bedroom), the corridors, Chapel and the messy play area. All the bedroom names will continue to be named after woodland creatures.

The highlights are:

Neutral Karndean flooring throughout (except the lounge and Chapel which will be replaced with carpet) which will be practical to keep clean
Soft green ‘woodland forest’ colour palette for all the new soft furnishings
Increased storage for toys and equipment
More seating areas if families want a level of privacy but still be within the hospice
Optional dining arrangements with flexible height adjustable tables
New smart TV’s
Replacement doors throughout the building
Better directional downlighting within communal areas
A fun ‘wayfinding’ system to the bedrooms
One of the major changes that visitors will notice is the fireplace that currently dominates the lounge area. The hearth has been removed and the area built over to create storage and a secret play area for the children disguised as a castle.

Another change is the children’s handprints on the wall along the corridor. These have all been photographed and have been reproduced to their precise size into a beautiful hardbacked book, allowing the corridor walls to be freshly painted. These handprints are now preserved for the families to look at for many years to come.

A main feature is the ‘way finding’ pipework. Upon entry to the hospice, children and families will see a set of eight brightly coloured pipes with a small toy woodland animal attached. The child or sibling can take the toy and follow the coloured pipe to the bedroom that they will be staying in.

The Boreham family wrote the ‘compelling letter’ for the Loop Charity Committee, as their daughter Evie, nine, has been using Little Havens for four years. Sarah, along with other families, were consulted throughout the project to ensure the views of parents, carers and children using the hospice were taken into consideration.

Sarah says, “The care and support Little Havens provide for Evie during her stays meets everything she needs which means we can have the rest and time to re-charge at home knowing she is being cared for in the best possible way.

“Over the years I have noticed that the decorations have looked tired and dated so to have Loop Interiors come in and give Little Havens a new look is very exciting. We are looking forward to Evie’s next stay in a couple of weeks so she can see the new look and all the new exciting things.

“I know all the families that use Little Havens Hospice will be extremely grateful for the kindness and generosity that Loop Interiors have provided.”

Director of Care for Havens Hospices Ellie Miller says,

“The kind of transformation that has taken place is something we could only have ever dreamed of because, as a charity, all the money raised goes towards caring for our children. Loop Interiors have been especially sensitive and understanding, taking the time to really get to know us and how we care for children, so the building could be designed around their needs and wishes.

“I’m not sure we can ever thank them enough for what they – and the builders, companies and contractors – have done. The experience for our current families, and those we will meet in the future, will be greatly improved by the care and dedication they have shown throughout.”

Little Havens Deputy Ward Sister, Lauren Summers added,

“I want to thank Loop Interiors and everyone who has been involved with the refurbishment for their understanding and sensitivity throughout the process. We were at times awkward customers, but whatever we threw at them in terms of needing access to the building or emergency admissions, they just did it with a smile.

“On behalf of both the Care Team and families, I want to thank them for what they have done for us. I have been here for 12 years and I know some of our families have been with us longer and the difference this transformation has made is phenomenal. It isn’t just the physical building that has been transformed, it has given us a new energy, a new vigour and that’s what we’re all really grateful for.”

The opening took place on Friday 14th June, just ahead of Children’s Hospice Week which is about breaking down the myths and taboos that put families off accessing hospice care.

Little Havens wants to reassure families that children’s hospices are places full of life and laughter, where they can access the expert and compassionate support they need to thrive. Whilst end of life care is an important part of what the hospice does, most of its care is focused on helping families make the most of the time they have together.

The full list of suppliers is:

Premier Refurbishment
ETech Southern
Carters Flooring
CJC Contractors
SSE Commercial Ltd
Dunmow Waste Management
Design Integration
Brewers (Basildon)
Cirque Furniture
Renaissance Graphics
Elite Site Supplies
Hobs Reprographics
WT Hills

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