“We don’t know how many Christmases we have left together. This year will be different, harder – but I know Demelza will help us to give Oliver and Poppy the best Christmas possible”.

 

Emily is mum to twins Oliver and Poppy and the family have always gone ‘big’ at Christmas. All of their close family would come along on the day so they could see the twins’ faces when they saw their pile of presents, enjoying food and fun together – that was Christmas Day.

 

Emily and Michael, the twins’ dad, always made such an effort because they never knew whether this would be the last Christmas they’d have together. Oliver was born with a rare genetic condition that affects him both mentally and physically. It’s life-threatening and Emily and Michael know that could mean anytime. They’d already lost their first daughter, before the twins were born, to the same condition.

 

Every day was already a challenge. Oliver isn’t like other children, he needs constant attention and stimulation. Poppy thankfully doesn’t have the same condition – but she is severely autistic and needs individual support a lot of the time. Even a good day can be shattering.

 

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown meant isolation for the family – they didn’t leave the house or garden between mid-March and late August - COVID-19 could be immediately fatal to Oliver. The family tried to cope but basic survival mode became the norm.

 

Before COVID-19, the thing that gave them all hope and a break, was Demelza. Emily says: “It was our happy place, the staff’s faces would light up when Oliver arrived. It was only a few days every now and again, but those days were the most precious. We knew the kids were being looked after by the best, most capable, experienced and understanding people.”

 

Emily continues: “There have been a few times when I’ve just felt I can’t go on, and that’s when I’ve picked up the phone and called Demelza. Because they have been my lifeline, and give me the support I need when there’s no-one else I can turn to”. Demelza have adapted their services, keeping in touch with Emily over Zoom, calling two or three times a week, and visiting (in full PPE) as lockdown eased.

 

Christmas will look different this year. As is the reality every year, Emily and Michael know they might not get another chance.

 

But, despite everything, Emily and Michael are going to have Christmas, at home, with Oliver and Poppy and make it the best Christmas they possibly can. And Demelza will move heaven and earth to help them make that happen.