Born in 1983, ‘Tiny Lives’ was the brain child of Dr Hans Steiner, a paediatrician who with Dr Edmund Hey took care of babies at the neonatal unit in the Princess Mary Maternity Hospital. ‘Tiny Lives’ became the name for the fund relating to babies at the Princess Mary.
The Tiny Lives trust is a registered charity that helps to care for premature and sick new born babies and their families in the Neonatal Unit based in Ward 35 of the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. They help support babies and families from across the North East region, from the Scottish border to Cumbria. The RVI Neonatal Unit is the Regional Centre of Excellence for Neonatal Care, so premature and sick babies are transferred there for expert help.
A big part of this support is supply items to the hospitals that improve the lives of parents and babies on the ward, whether this is supply developmental support items, home comforts for parents, new medical equipment or even funding certain staff member positions.
Tiny Lives aims to raise £250,000 a year and funding goes towards a large selection of items, including:
Parking and travel permits – with families coming from all across the North East, travel costs can be a big concern. Tiny Lives offers funding for car parking and travel passes to families that may be struggling with the cost.
Cuskl ® Miniboos – small, soft comforters that are given to Mother and baby, then swapped at night time. This means that the Mother can smell her baby, and vice versa, to help with bonding and production of the breast milk.
Freddy Frogs – These frog-shaped bean bags are used as positioning aids, which keeps little limbs in the correct place and help with proper development. Portions of the aid can be adjusted separately for special positioning, meaning it can be adapted for every baby with ease.
Funding also goes towards full time members of staff:
- Paediatric social worker – Tiny Lives fund a full-time social worker to work exclusively on Ward 35 providing social, emotional and practical support to families of babies on the Unit.
- Family Integrated Care Nurse – Offering advice, support and to families regarding Family Integrated Care practices, including getting parents involved in Kangaroo Care (skin-on-skin cuddles with their new-born).
- Paediatric Physiotherapist – They also meet the cost of a full-time physiotherapist to work on the Unit. This ensures premature and unwell full-term babies have direct access to specialist physiotherapy input whenever they need it.
As part of Ellis Bates Chosen Charities referral scheme.