Project information

Support A Sibling

Support a Siblings helps older brothers and sisters enjoy, understand, and share with tier parents the very long days and weeks in hospital whilst their premature, sick baby brother or sister (or both if twins!) is in an incubator at this critical time in the family's life.

Ongoing. Target fundraising is for 1 year

Charity information: The Tiny Lives Trust

The Tiny Lives Trust logo
  • Need


    Babies born too soon are often in hospital for weeks, even months before they ready to go home. The most ill pre and full term babies are transferred to the RVI SCBU for treatment and surgery meaning parents are far from home, spending long periods of time away from family, friends, and support networks. Young family members feel left out, jealous of a new arrival taking attention away from them, upset at seeing their babybrother or sister in an incubator, or even just bored at spending long ho


    Support A Sibling provides imaginative and practical help so children feel cared for at a time when their parents' priority is their premature baby. Support A sibling provides toys for the family room to keep children entertained, is developing a sibling book with a variety of endings so siblings learn and understand what having a prem baby means for everyone including themselves, financial support for those treats when mealtimes can become sporadic (this helps mum and dad eat properly too), and

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To support older siblings of premature babies


    » Purchase age appropriate toys for the family room.
    » Develop a siblings book with different endings as an educational tool.
    » Provide food vouchers for heathly food and treats.
    » Supply travel passes and transport costs so siblings spend time with their parents too.

    What success will look like

    Feedback from siblings, parents, the wider family circle, and nursing staff.

  • Impact


    The combination of support mechanisms will:
    - relieve some of the stress and worry that parents experience at this time.
    - I proved behaviour of older siblings both in hospital and post discharge.
    - an understanding by siblings of how a prem baby affects the family.
    - a smoother transition from ward to home.
    We will do surveys after discharge of parents for feedback. Our new buddy volunteers will ask for anecdotal feedback that we will also use improve our support and various interventions.


    Lack of take up. Lack of awareness.
    Our family focused work means we constantly consult with parents and nursing staff. We do this through our regular presence on the ward, discussion with the ward based Social Worker we fund, at buddy groups we support, online surveys, and liaison with nursing staff. We also have a Develoment Worker post to manage this work.


    We will compile case studies, send our quarterly e-newsletter, invite them to visit SCBU, meet buddy group volunteers.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £27,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,000 Toys, IT kit, books, and games A range of age appropriate play equipment.
      £2,500 Food vouchers Arrangement with hospital based cafe franchises.
      £2,500 Transport costs l Travel passes for bus, train, metro.
      £5,000 Sibling book Development with children's author of book designed for siblings of prem babies.
      £15,000 Family room Furnishing a new family room
  • Background


    The most sick premature babies from across the North East and Cumbria are transferred for treatment to this centre of excellence at the RVI in Newcastle. Young family members spend lots of time on ward 35 in the RVI whilst their parents are by their new baby's incubator. Families come from all backgrounds, with a level of need that warrants the role of a ward based Social Worker whose salary Tiny lives funds. Many families experience a reduction in income when mum has her baby unexpectedly earl


    Young children, usually pre teens, are unexpectedly thrown into a situation they don't understand, spend long periods of time away from home, and are unsettled by the arrival not only of a new baby, but a very poorly baby. By distracting them with play materials, feeding them, helping them travel with mum or dad, they stay together as a family and feel they are a part of what is going on as they able to learn alongside their parents in a supportive hospital setting.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Tiny Lives has been working alongside SCBU staff for 10+ years. Our board is half lay, half clinical with trustees including the ward Matron, the lead consultant on the unit, and a senior bereavement sister. RVI staff sit on our grantmaking subcommittee and other working groups, We work alongside nurse ambassadors who promote our support to families, and liaise closely with the specialist neonatal Physiotherapist we fund. 10,000+ social media followers include many former SCBU families.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Carol Meredith, Head Of Tiny Lives

    Responsible for the implementation, monitoring, and reporting of Support A Sibling

    Louiza Caulfield, Projects Officer

    Organises consultations with parents, manages buddy group facilitators, liaises closely with ward staff as an integral aspect of her development work.

    Louise Carroll, Adminsitrator/Fundraiser

    Constant and lose contact with parents fundraising even whilst their baby is on the ward, accompanies people on ward visits so regularly meets staff

"Having another child at home it was hard to split time between them both and often meant I had to bring Lily with me into hospital. Extra support would have been nice to help entertain her."