The HIPS group was formed in 1990 in response to a need to provide support for families whose infants and children were diagnosed with congenital orthopedic problems. The lead surgeon at Medway Maritime Hospital at that time was Mr John Beavis, who also became the patron of the group, and the Chairperson was Mrs Avril Nuttall. Together with the dedication of the lead nurse in outpatients, Nora Clark, and a small band of like-minded parents and other professionals, the HIPS group was officially formed and registered as a charity with the Charities Commission.

The group set out with aims to provide emotional and practical support for families whose children were under-going treatment at the Medway Hospital. Fund raising activities were undertaken which gathered resources for providing equipment for the orthopaedic paediatric centre of excellence formed under Mr John Beavis’s care. The equipment provided by HIPS was a state of the art computer and ultra sound scanner which could assist in early diagnosis, and therefore allow less invasive treatment options to be considered.

HIPS also provided a network of support for parents by offering to broker contact with parents in similar situations. This proved to be a popular function of the group, and many long lasting friendships have been formed. In addition, social activities were provided such as Christmas parties and meeting spaces at Child Health Clinics which were operated at that time locally under the NHS. Fund raising events such as sponsored swim events, and baby clothes exchange points provided additional opportunities for families to gather and exchange experiences, from which members could draw additional support.

Sadly, some five years later, John Beavis retired from Medway Hospital and the Hospital Board could not recruit an adequate replacement to head the now well-developed unit, and so a decision was made to close our unit and offer referrals out of Medway for children who were diagnosed. This decision was a catastrophic blow for the group as members were now dispersed, and our very core had been removed. The impact of this situation was that the group became dormant and activities were suspended.

In 2014 the Charities Commission became interested in absorbing the remaining funds of the HIPS group and contacted the trustees with this proposal. The trustees collectively decided that HIPS should first investigate the possibility of supporting another local charity with our funding and began accepting proposals from various groups and projects. It was important to the trustees that the funds remained in the remit of family and child support in the Medway area, as this is the area from which fund raising activities had originated.

One of the proposals presented, was to provide support and social activities for children with complex needs. Parents gathered together and highlighted the lack of social space and activities for disabled children; because they often attend school some distance from their home, and therefore lack the opportunity of extracurricular activities and play dates. From this small beginning, once again HIPS could be re-launched in 2015.

The group now has five trustees and a growing committee who have organised various activities and events, such as sports events and day trips. The group welcomes all new members, and provides from its home at Lordswood Sports and Social Club, Chatham, a social space for sharing experiences and ideas, and planning future events for children with complex needs and their families. Please get in touch via contact us if you would like to participate in any capacity.

Julie
Dr Julie Peet (Chairperson)