An IT Company has raised enough money to enable dozens of parents to keep in virtual contact with their poorly babies on a Newcastle hospital ward – despite all of its fundraising events being cancelled by Covid-19.
In 2019, IT Managed Services business TruStack vowed to its charity of the year, the Tiny Lives Trust, that it would raise enough money to help fund its vCreate service.
vCreate allows parents and families to receive real-time, video updates on their premature and poorly babies at the Neonatal Unit at the RVI Hospital.
Little did TruStack know that the service would prove even more vital after its pledge, with restrictions meaning much more contact between families and their little loved ones was carried out virtually.
However, restrictions also meant that TruStack had to cancel its fundraising events for Tiny Lives, which included a family fun day and sponsored walk in 2020.
But thanks to some inventive virtual fundraising events and ideas, the Cramlington-based business still brought in a staggering £7,200 – enough money to have funded Tiny Lives’ use of the service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rachel Hardwick, Funding and Partnerships Officer at Tiny Lives, said: “Being able to see videos from the ward of their little ones has been absolutely vital for parents who have been isolating, and when there have been restrictions on visiting.
“It has always been an important service, but it has really come into its own during the pandemic.
“TruStack has been absolutely phenomenal in its support of our charity. The company has managed to continue fundraising in such inventive ways to keep up its pledge, and we are so grateful.
“It would have been easy for them to say ‘sorry, we have our own stuff going on, we’ll see you when the pandemic is over’, but they didn’t. They went above and beyond to make sure they could keep raising money for us.”
Tiny Lives has supported 371 families over the past three years, sending 1,123 videos and 2,651 photos in that time. It has also supplied iPads and accessories to the Unit.
One mum, Clare, said of the vCreate service: “The first time I saw my baby open his eyes was through a photo that was sent to me via vCreate and I will treasure this forever. Having that facility on the unit is invaluable for parents.”
The partnership between TruStack and Tiny Lives came about after the charity helped two of the company’s directors through difficult times.
Both Paul Watson and Russell Henderson were supported by the charity, and the pair have been wanting to pay it back ever since.
Paul’s daughter Niamh, now 20, spent over a month in the Neonatal Unit when she was born five weeks prematurely, weighing just 3lbs.
Dad-of-two Paul said: “Having a baby is stressful enough but when unexpected events happen and your new-born needs medical assistance it is terrifying.
“When my daughter was born prematurely, Tiny Lives provided first-class care for the first few weeks of her life. The staff could not do enough to help my daughter as well as myself and my wife.
“We feel very grateful for the care they provided many years ago and very much wanted to give something back.
“As an IT company the vCreate system seemed like a natural choice; using technology to help families keep in touch and see their babies when they may not be able to physically get to the ward during potentially difficult times.”
Russell’s son Mattie, now 12, spent around seven weeks in the RVI when he was born.
Russell said: “The service offered to us at the time by Tiny Lives when my son was in SCBU helped take a part of the stress out of the situation, and when babies have major complications, any help in reducing the stress is welcome.
“I know what it is like to spend long periods of time in hospital with a poorly baby. For those parents who live a long distance from the hospital and their child is in hospital for a long period of time, this service is invaluable. We are proud to be able to support Tiny Lives “
TruStack has enabled hundreds of businesses to implement ‘Hybrid Working’ over the past 18 months, so employees are able to work from any location, not just the office.
It has also carried out many digital transformation projects over the last two years for leading North East businesses such as Sintons LLP, Ryder Architecture, Montane and Vantec to name but a few.
Meanwhile, it has continued its long association with several of the North East’s Top 200 companies – including Muckle LLP and Collingwood Business Solutions – as well as big names across the UK such as the Premier League and Vertu Motors.
TruStack has its head office at Northumberland Business Park, Cramlington, and a branch office at the Evolve Business Centre, Houghton le Spring.
For more information on TruStack go to www.trustack.co.uk or call 0191 250 3000.