Acorns Children’s Hospice has made history as the first hospice in Britain to win a prestigious UNICEF UK Silver Award for its work to protect children’s rights.
The award recognises the charity’s commitment to ensuring the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child is at the heart of its culture, planning, policies and practice.
Emma Aspinall, Director of Care at Acorns, said: “Children and families have always been at the centre of everything we do at Acorns, so we are both thrilled and incredibly proud to become the first hospice in the UK to receive recognition from such an esteemed organisation at this level.
“It is our aim is for all Acorns care teams and care volunteers to understand the Convention for the Rights of the Child, and that Acorns services and responses to our young people is synonymous with these rights.”
The UN Convention’s 54 articles cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights.
Acorns began its partnership with UNICEF UK in 2019 and became the first non-school organisation to join its Rights Respecting Award programme, receiving the Bronze accolade in 2020.
Work to secure Silver was temporarily placed on hold during Covid-19 as the charity quickly adapted its services to support some of the most vulnerable children and families in the community impacted by the pandemic.
But, thanks to the commitment of Acorns UNICEF Champions and the dedication of care teams across the charity’s three hospices based in Birmingham, Walsall and Worcester, Acorns has now won the Silver accolade.
In their review, UNICEF assessors remarked how ‘there is clear communication and a shared vision for children’s rights to underpin everything Acorns does’.
The report outlined how ‘empowering children to have a voice is central to the support that Acorns provides’, while at the same time staff are ‘sensitive to the needs and views of parents’.
It also recognised how ‘staff empower children to make choices about everyday life’ and how an organisational charter created jointly by hospice teams and children ‘clearly identifies how children and adults will respect’ key rights.
Assessors praised how ‘child-friendly notices that reinforce children’s right to dignity, privacy, to rest and play and to healthy food’ feature throughout Acorns hospices and even how ‘children like to point these out to visitors’.
They also commended how the charity promoted the rights of others locally by distributing food parcels to vulnerable families as part of its support to the community during the height of the pandemic.
Emma added: “This report recognises the hard work and incredible efforts of everyone at Acorns to ensure that we are ambassadors for Children’s Rights in all we do.
“We are excited to continue our Rights Respecting journey and already have a clear roadmap in place to help us to continue to build on our high-quality services and excellent practice and strive for Gold.”
Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for life limited and life threatened children and support for their families.
In the past year, the charity has cared for more than 700 children and almost 1,000 families, including those who are bereaved.
It cost Acorns £27,000 per day to provide its lifeline care and support, the bulk of which comes from fundraising and donations.
The UNICEF UK Rights Respecting initiative is aimed at schools across the UK. The awards are granted to organisations that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children and young people to respect the rights of others.
Silver is given to organisations that make excellent progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into their ethos.
Acorns joins over 1,300 schools across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that have achieved Silver.
To find out more about Acorns and the charity’s commitment to the UN Convention for Children’s Rights, please visit www.acorns.org.uk