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Hospital homes are a real lifesaver says mum supporting the Cwtsh Clos campaign

Jo and Ceys Silverwood

A mother whose premature baby spent six weeks in Singleton Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has spoken about how being able to live in accommodation on the hospital site was a huge relief during an incredibly stressful time.

Mum Jo Silverwood is sharing her story to support the Swansea Bay Health Charity’s Cwtsh Clos fundraising campaign to refurbish the free onsite accommodation for families.

Cwtsh Clos is a terrace of five houses a stone’s throw away from the NICU, where families can stay to be near their babies.

As Jo explained, when her new-born daughter Cerys was admitted to Singleton Hospital’s NICU she had enough on her plate let alone worrying over the daily commute to be by her side.

Jo had experienced complications well before the due date and required emergency surgery.


Baby Cerys was delivered 11 weeks early in August 2018, weighing only 2lb 4oz, and required a six week stay in NICU.

For Jo and her husband Bob, the prospect of commuting 60 miles from their Hay-on-Wye home on a regular basis was an extra burden at an already fraught time.

So when the couple were given the keys to health board owned accommodation on the hospital site it was a massive relief.

She said: “When I was well enough to be discharged, we went straight into the house. It was an absolute lifeline. I don’t know what we would have done without it.

“I’d just had an emergency C-section and my husband, Bob, was trying to do some work because he wanted to take his paternity leave when our daughter was out of hospital.

“It meant that he could do a bit of work in the house and I could easily get to see Cerys as often as I could.

“She was in the unit for six weeks. It’s a long time.”

Although the facilities inside the property were quite basic, the couple were extremely grateful.

Jo said: “When we were there it had a living room with a television, couch and a dining table.

“The cooking facilities were quite basic. There was a decent fridge freezer but it would be helpful if they had a hob and an oven.

“Bob would cook at home when he went home for work and bring stuff back which we would heat up in a microwave he bought.

“There was also laundrette on site which I used to do the washing.

“And there was a bit of a garden but, when I was well enough, I tended to go for a little walk around Singleton Park or the beach.

“We were just thrilled to have the opportunity to have somewhere close to Cerys. I wasn’t able to drive at that point.”

An added bonus to the homes is they place families going through similar experiences together creating a kind of support group.

Jo said: “I’ve kept in touch with one of the mums who was in one of the other homes.

“You build up a nice network with the other parents because they understand where you’re coming from.

“You can feel quite isolated but the other parents staying there understand what you are going through and you can support each other.

“That’s really valuable. Friends who had more conventional births were sympathetic but they don’t really understand it.”

Above: Jo with her daughter who is now 5-yrears-old and doing fine

Cerys is now 5-years-old and doing very well.

As a thank you, Jo ran a half marathon last summer to raise funds for NICU.

And she has recalled her experiences in order to support our new campaign, championed by musician and broadcaster Mal Pope, aimed at raising £160,000 to refurbish and re-equip the five homes.

The well-used properties, acquired in 2016, are now showing their age so the move is much needed.

She said: “It’s a very worthy cause, most definitely.

“Having that time to spend with your baby, when they are not well, and not having to worry about travel is an absolute lifeline. We were very lucky to have it.”

Helen James, matron neonatal services, said: “Having a baby on a neonatal unit is very stressful for parents and the team do an excellent job in supporting parents to come to terms with having a poorly baby or having a preterm baby.

But then those parents need to have a place to rest and recharge themselves – so it’s really important that we provide an environment that is comfortable and calm.

“Since we’ve had the houses we haven’t had an opportunity with limited resources, to refurbish them to a standard we would like and families deserve. They have been used so extensively, we now need to refurbish them so that we can support parents.

“We want to make it a pleasure to stay there.”

Mal Pope houses

Support is growing for the Cwtsh Clos campaign:

Swansea Bay Health Charity is delighted to announce that a number of external organisation are now backing the Cwtsh Clos campaign.

The Principality Building Society - click here to find out more about the Principality, which has already sponsored Swansea Bay UHB’s internal staff awards event, is now supporting the Cwtsh Clos campaign by donating 30 fundraising spaces in this year’s Cardiff Half Marathon.

And local charity the Leon Heart Fund - click here for more information has held a Leon’s Memorial gala dinner raising over £5,000 towards upgrading the Cwtsh Clos gardens, and is planning another fundraiser this summer.

If your organisation would like to support the Cwtsh Clos campaign, please email swanseabay.healthcharity@wales.nhs or call 07977 659 647 and we’ll get back to you to discuss this further.

If you would like to give an online donation to Cwtsh Clos, you can do that by clicking  here.

To make a donation using your phone, please text 'Donate Swanseabayhealth homes' to 88802.

If you would like to fundraise for us yourself, or hold a fundraising event, please visit our JustGiving page for Cwtsh Clos here, where you will find more information.

You can also visit our Cwtsh Clos webpage by going here for more information about the NICU centre and the fundraising appeal.

Thank you for your support!

About the Swansea Bay Health Charity:

Swansea Bay Health Charity (registered charity number 1122805) is the official charity of Swansea Bay University Health Board.

It plays a vital role in raising money for projects and activities that support patients, whilst it also supports a range of projects to improve the working conditions and support available to staff.

Nearly all wards and departments have their own fund, which all come under the Swansea Bay Health Charity umbrella.

So if someone wants to give something back for the care they or a loved one has received, the charity ensures the funds raised will go directly there.

The charity does not replace NHS funding but uses generations donations received from patients, their families, staff and local communities to provide above and beyond what they NHS can provide.

To find out more about the Swansea Bay Health Charity please click here to go to the charity's website.

Image of Swansea Bay health charity logo

Swansea Bay Health Charity

Are you interested in raising money to support NHS services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot? Did you know that Swansea Bay University Health Board has its own fundraising charity?

Swansea Bay Health Charity supports patients, staff and services within Swansea Bay University Health Board. Visit its webpage here to find out more.

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth a galwadau ffôn yn y Gymraeg neu'r Saesneg. Atebir gohebiaeth Gymraeg yn y Gymraeg, ac ni fydd hyn yn arwain at oedi. Mae’r dudalen hon ar gael yn Gymraeg drwy bwyso’r botwm ar y dde ar frig y dudalen.

We welcome correspondence and telephone calls in Welsh or English. Welsh language correspondence will be replied to in Welsh, and this will not lead to a delay. This page is available in Welsh by clicking ‘Cymraeg’ at the top right of this page.