Children’s Hospice Association Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2019.

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Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

On behalf of the Scottish Government, I add my welcome to colleagues from CHAS and some of the families who are supported by CHAS, who are in the public gallery this afternoon. I congratulate Miles Briggs on securing the debate, and I thank him and colleagues around the chamber for their thoughtful and considered contributions to the debate.

CHAS fulfils a unique role in supporting children and young people with life-limiting conditions and the families and friends who are around them. We have heard from members about the difference that CHAS has made to their constituents and how CHAS has kept the joy alive for families when they have felt at their lowest.

At the start of the debate, Miles Briggs said that he was trying to find a word to describe Rachel house and Robin house. My colleague Maree Todd, the children’s minister, who has not been able to stay for the debate, passed a note to me setting out her thoughts on an appropriate word to describe the hospices and CHAS in general. The word she chose is “joy”. She writes that, when she visited, she

“expected to find compassion, empathy and incredible expertise.”

She found those, of course, but she did not expect to find “fun” and spend her time “playing and singing.” She sums up the experience as “pure joy”.

I will remind members of some of the comments that were made in the debate. Miles Briggs talked about a sense of home and the hospices being a haven, while Brian Whittle talked about them being bright. All members used positive language and words such as “bright” and “joyous”, which is important.

It is also important to remember CHAS’s purpose. Brian Whittle expressed how moving and emotional the stories and case stories that CHAS has shared with us are. I thank the individuals concerned for allowing CHAS to share those stories, because they give us a fuller sense of how important CHAS’s work is. The amazing staff and volunteers provide a breadth of support in a compassionate way. Others in the chamber have thanked the volunteers, and I add my thanks.