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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 14 October, 2019

VIDEO: The charity providing free accommodation to parents of sick children

Ade Stack saw parents who were not from Dublin sleeping in waiting rooms and in their cars while her son was in hospital – she wanted to do something to help.


“WE ALL EXPECT to lose people in our lives, but when you lose a child it’s really hard because it feels unnatural.”

Ade Stack and her husband Martin lost their son Hugh six years ago. He was born in 2012 and spent most of the eight months of his life in Temple Street hospital. 

During that time, Ade said they saw many families at the hospital who were not from Dublin and who did not have the support and resources they had that allowed them to spend every day with Hugh. 

“We saw families sleeping in the waiting room, we saw people sleeping in cars, we saw people who had come up and down from Clonmel, Waterford, every day. And we felt that wasn’t fair.”

That is when they decided to set up Hugh’s House, a charity that provides free accommodation for the parents of children in hospital in Dublin. They opened their doors the spring after they lost their little boy.

Stack said to lose a child feels so unnatural, but the work they do through the charity in Hugh’s name feels “really natural”. 

There are two houses – one is for the parents of premature babies during their first few weeks in hospital until they can either go home or be moved to hospitals closer to where they live. 

The other house is for parents who may need to stay longer with their children. All of the rooms have been designed by and named after families who previously stayed there and who lost their child.

In between the two houses is a private garden and playground that parents can bring their children to if they are well enough to leave the hospital for a couple of hours, or when young siblings visit for the weekend.

Hugh’s House provides basic food items in the kitchen – there is always tea and biscuits – and ready meals for families to have after a long day at the hospital. They regularly have volunteer groups from Irish companies into the main house to cook fresh meals for the parents.

“It’s meant to be a place where you know you’re loved, you know you’re cared [for], you know that the bigger community does care that you’re going through this hard time, and you feel that you’re not the only person who’s going through that.”

Stack said the charity has never received State funding so it depends wholly on the generosity of “people who say: ‘thank God I will never need that house’”. 

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