Search
Close this search box.

The heartwarming charity making a huge difference to parents with kids in hospital

Discover how Emmies Kitchen, inspired by a courageous young girl, is providing essential support and nourishment to parents of hospitalised children and their families in Greater Manchester.
Share
Tweet
Share
Chat
Emmies Kitchen

In the hushed hallways of hospitals, a quiet, often invisible community navigates an intense journey of trauma and isolation.

These are the parents of hospitalised children, enduring weeks, months, or even years as their children receive life-saving treatments.

The emotional and physical toll on these families is immense—parents separated from their loved ones, losing jobs, and struggling to care for themselves.

In this landscape of exhaustion and uncertainty, even a basic necessity like a nourishing meal becomes a luxury.

Whilst the hospital is amazing at looking after the children, somebody has to look after the parents and carers.

And that’s where Emmies Kitchen comes in.

Emmies Kitchen

Emmies Kitchen
The Emmies Kitchen team

“Our mission is to provide support to parents and carers staying with their poorly child in Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH),” explains Eve, Emmie’s mum and chair of the charity.

“For many, this is a really traumatic and challenging time—often you need to be able to make life-changing decisions about your child’s future or process the most complicated medical information and procedures.

“Parents will not prioritise their own needs throughout this time as their child is their main focus, but parents need to be well physically and mentally to play a pivotal role in their child’s hospital journey and beyond.”

How does Emmies Kitchen help?

From its origins of providing a home-cooked meal once a month in Ronald McDonald House at Manchester Children’s Hospital, Emmies Kitchen now delivers up to 150 hot meals per week to the parents on the wards or who are staying in Ronald McDonald House, as well as 80 snack bags for distribution across the Hospital.

The work of Emmies Kitchen is vital as it recognises the importance and values of the role that parents and carers have in caring for their poorly child while staying in RMCH and beyond.

“The supporting family is often a forgotten community that no one really wants to think about, but the reality of being a hospital parent can be so much harder than anyone could imagine.

“Having volunteers who themselves have come through long hospital stays often gives hope to parents—that there is life after hospital and children can get better,” Eve emphasised.

“More than just a free meal”

Emmies Kitchen continues to be more than just a free meal.

The volunteers provide emotional support.

Parents with their own lived experience offer advice and guidance, and more recently Emmies Kitchen has been at the forefront of raising awareness about childhood cancer.

Something difficult to talk about, and sometimes overlooked.

Sadly, as Emmies family found out, it can happen to anyone, and turn lives upside down in an instant.

It was Emmie’s vision to see that parents needed looking after and feeding, and with the help of the Emmie’s Kitchen volunteers, they have now made that a reality.

“Emmies Kitchen offers individually ordered meals, meaning that parents have a choice over the meal that they receive, operating on a six to eight week rota,” Eve notes.

“We also offer parents and carers a monthly well-being drop-in, where they can relax with different self-care activities including breath work, meditation, and massage as well as spin art or just having a chat with a brew and a piece of cake.

“Emmies Kitchen believes in looking after and nurturing parents and carers in a non-clinical environment so they can replenish some of their energy to go again and be able to deal with whatever challenges hospital life may throw at them next.”

Emmie’s story

Emmie

The heartwarming story of Emmies Kitchen is inseparable from its namesake and inspiration, Emmie.

Diagnosed with leukaemia at the tender age of eight, Emmie’s journey through 2.5 years of treatment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH) was fraught with challenges.

Yet, amidst the fear and battles with infections, Emmie and her family recognised their fortune in having close proximity to the hospital and a strong support network of family and friends.

Many other families, they noticed, weren’t as lucky—travelling from far distances, lacking nearby support, and often going without meals.

Emmie has been recognised for her immense courage.

She was named the Pride of Britain Child of Courage in 2020, and the ‘Pride of Manchester’ award winner in 2019.

Emmie said: “I am now 15 years old, in 2017 when I was eight I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

“The next 2.5 years of treatment was a very scary time for me and my family. I spent lots of time at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and had to battle a number of serious infections.

“Despite all the bad things, my family and I soon realised how lucky we were compared to other families.

“We lived close to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where I got the best treatment possible, and we had family and friends close by to support us.

“Not everyone was so lucky. Other families had to come from miles away, they had no friends and family close by and parents often went without food because there was no one to bring it for them, or they couldn’t afford to keep buying from the shops.

“That’s when I suggested to my mum and my Gran that maybe we could help, and the idea of Emmies Kitchen was born.”

Looking towards the future

Emmies Kitchen is now six years old and has proven to be a much-needed service for parents staying in RMCH.

The team said they were ‘so proud’ that they have been able to give support to families when they are in some of the most worrying times of their lives.

Eve highlights the importance of peer support within the charity.

“We are a family with lived experience; our volunteers are all able to listen and empathise with how difficult hospital life can be.

“It’s important the parents have an opportunity to feel heard at a time where they have very little say.

“We also provide gift bags of a book, toiletry set, pyjamas, and chocolates for every parent having to stay in hospital over Christmas, working with community partners like Read MCR, CITC, Primark, and Fareshare GM.”

The team at the chippy

They work with local takeaways and restaurants to provide a Friday night takeaway such as Leon, the battered cod fish and chips, the Manchester Chinese, a regular curry night, Jilani’s- Asian food from the grill and everyone’s favourite, pizza.

Looking towards the future, Emmies Kitchen aims to expand its services and reach.

“Emmies Kitchen recognises the importance of parental mental health, and in time we hope to be able to offer more psychological support for families with a child staying in RMCH.

“We are often asked if we would expand to cover other hospitals, but we are a small family team of volunteers who also have full-time jobs and families.

“We have influenced similar work across the country, providing support and advice to others trying to do something similar.

“We also feed into other networks to raise awareness of parents and carers staying in hospital with their poor child and the long-term impacts of childhood cancer,” Eve explained.

How the community supports Emmies Kitchen

The community plays a crucial role in supporting Emmies Kitchen.

“We are always fundraising to ensure that the charity is sustainable. Currently, Emmies Kitchen has no paid staff, and all contributions go straight back into providing the meals, snack bags, gifts, and events,” Eve said.

“We have limited volunteering opportunities, but we always welcome interested people to get in touch. Being more aware of the needs of parents and carers staying in hospital can hugely impact all aspects of life, including finances, relationships, and physical and mental well-being.”

How to help Emmies Kitchen?

You can find out more about Emmies Kitchen by clicking here

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.

Share
Tweet
Share
Chat

Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Search
Close this search box.