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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 16:05 GMT
North West: Hospice care
Lucy Breakwell
The Politics Show North West

Freddie Flintoff
Flintoff dinner proceeds went to Derian House

It is hard to imagine coming to terms with the death of your child, or dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

But that is reality for families in the North West who find themselves using the regions four children's hospices.

However it may come as a surprise to find that places such as Derian House in Chorley only receive a tiny amount of their funds from the government.

The children's hospice movement began in 1982 to help the 20,000 children in the UK with life-limiting conditions.

There are now 38 in the country, four of which are in the North West.

Derian House opened 13 years ago and provides palliative and respite care for over 300 families in the North West.

It is a second home for the children, as well as a chance for mum and dad to have a break.

However on average, children's hospices only receive 5% of their funds from the government, the rest comes from fundraising and charitable donations.

Trevor Briggs is the general manager at Derian House, and this year will have to raise around 1.5m just to keep the hospice up and running.

The tiny amount of official funding the hospice does get - around 2% comes from local primary care trusts, and there is no central guidance on the amount they should give.

As the children who use Derian House come from all over the North West it is difficult negotiating with every PCT in the region, and they don't all pay up.

Lynda Heyworth's 16-year-old daughter Sarah died from an aggressive form of bone cancer two years ago.

She spent the last eight weeks of her life at Derian House, with her family living in a flat at the hospice.

Funding is an issue that's very close to Lynda's heart and she vows to keep on campaigning until statutory funding is made available.

In 2003 Derian House was awarded almost 1m of lottery funding but that money will run out in June 2006.

For Trevor and the fundraisers at the hospice the yearly battle to raise one and a half million pounds goes on.

The Department of Health say they are "determined to give these children and their families all the practical and clinical support they need, and will be bringing forward plans to Parliament as soon as possible."

But the parents and children who use Derian House are unanimous in their verdict - the hospice is a lifeline.

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