Caravan of Care takes Christmas on the road

Leaving town in a decked out Christmas van, and with Santa Claus in tow, the team at Bear Cottage set out this week to bring a little piece of Christmas to their families, wherever they are.

The epic three-week road trip in what has been adoringly named the 'Christmas Caravan of Care' began on the Central Coast and will see the team visit families in Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Penrith, Dubbo, Orange, Rouse Hill, Wollongong, Mollymook and Canberra.

The trip replaces the annual Bear Cottage Christmas party, which had to be re-imagined this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Nurse Manager of Bear Cottage, Narelle Martin, said the sole purpose of the new initiative is to bring Christmas cheer to families and connect with those families who rely on the hospice for support.

“The last six months have been challenging for everyone so we wanted to spread some much needed Christmas joy to all of our patients and their families. Connection is important and many of our families are very isolated in their community. So, if the families can’t come to Bear Cottage, we will take Bear Cottage to them,” Narelle said.

Over the next three weeks, the Christmas convoy will visit 279 Bear Cottage families across NSW as well as making toy drops at Manning Base Hospital and Armidale Hospital, where some Bear Cottage children receive care. It will also visit some of the Indigenous communities in the Central West.

“To be able to connect with not only families but also Mob from local communities will be a special experience for everyone. We’re excited to be hitting the road to spread the Christmas spirit,” said Aboriginal Health Worker in Palliative Care & Chronic and Complex Needs at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Tanya Quinn.

The Christmas Caravan of Care will conclude in Canberra on 23 December.

Bear Cottage is the only children's hospice in NSW, providing respite and end-of-life care to children with life-limiting illness and their families.