Building The Ark

The Horticultural and Sensory Garden at ‘The Ark’, what will be the only children’s hospice building in North and Central London, will enable seriously unwell children to access an inspiring space for relaxation and adventure. It will help them to live as children, not just patients.

Noah’s Ark offers community-based services and, in late 2017, began constructing The Ark, which will be the only children’s hospice building in its catchment area (Barnet, Enfield, Islington, Camden, Haringey and Hertsmere).

The Ark, opening in spring 2019, will be home-from-home for seriously unwell children. We ask Jewson Building Better Communities to kindly consider supporting The Ark’s Horticultural and Sensory Garden. The estimated cost of this garden area is £45,000.

A space designed to provide respite with raised accessible planters, botanical beds and equipment for outdoor therapeutic treatments, this garden will help seriously unwell children enjoy the natural environment with their family and friends.

Noah’s Ark currently supports 217 babies, children and young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. By 2020 we project that we will be supporting 337 seriously unwell babies, children and young people, 395 of their siblings and 607 of their parents/guardians. All will have access to the Horticultural and Sensory Garden; creating opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment, inclusive play between children of different abilities, as well as the development of peer networks for children and parents.

“Noah’s Ark is ideally placed to fill the need for additional care services for children in North London” Dr Finella Craig, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

There are at least 1169 children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions in our catchment area (Fraser et al 2011, 2015). But there is no children’s hospice building for them to access.

This project will provide a wide range of paediatric care and support services that are not currently available in the area. The nearest children’s hospice buildings are in East London, Twickenham, Essex and Bedfordshire. The families we support find it very difficult to access these facilities. The Ark and its Horticultural and Sensory Garden will enable Noah’s Ark to offer a wider breadth of support to those in need, within their local community

“We use another hospice for short breaks which is about 90 minutes away, but an hour and a half in bad traffic is difficult with our son’s condition. He might have an epileptic fit on the way. We are desperate for a local children’s hospice building for respite. For parents of a seriously ill child, you never get the chance to recuperate. A local children’s hospice is not a luxury provision; it’s a necessity.” Mother of a child benefitting from Noah’s Ark’s care.

Research conducted by Contact a Family found that 72% of families with disabled children experience poor mental health. Noah’s Ark is focused on enabling seriously unwell children and their families and promoting resilience. This requires Noah’s Ark to be flexible in delivering holistic support. The ongoing use of the Horticultural and Sensory Garden will enhance our current service and in particular, will offer ongoing opportunities for children and families to develop relationships within their local community.

As Michael, father of Eli, who is supported by Noah’s Ark, says “Gardens are crucial for children who have got physical or sensory difficulties. We walk past a garden and we don’t even think about it, but for Eli, it is crucial as it provokes a response from her. It’s one way of stimulating her to the natural environment, it is an important experience that will help brain development, attentiveness or engagement. It’s like a huge playground for Eli’s brain and senses. The Horticultural and Sensory Garden is going to be a big plus for The Ark.”