Home   News   Article

Ross-shire mother camps out to raise awareness of plight of carers; Specialist Haven Centre drive put in spotlight by Muir of Ord campaigner

By Staff Reporter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Rona Matheson has been camping in her garden to raise money for the Haven Appeal.
Rona Matheson has been camping in her garden to raise money for the Haven Appeal.

THE Ross-shire mother of a young woman with complex needs has done a solo camping for carers challenge in her back garden to raise funds and awareness of the acute need for a specialist centre in the Highlands.

Rona Matheson spent five nights under canvas for the Haven Appeal which plans to build a pioneering centre for children and young people with severe learning disabilities at a site in Inverness, having recently been given planning permission for the project which will include respite flats, a specialist play centre and community coffee shop and garden .

She said the added isolation and distress faced by them and their carers due to the coronavirus lockdown prompted the challenge.

Mrs Matheson, appeal's community fundraiser, lives in Wards Drive, Muir of Ord with husband, Ian, and daughters Anna, Talitha, Elmarie and Sarah who has a rare form of epilepsy and complex needs.

Sarah (18) had to return home from a specialist assessment in London – following a six year wait for an assessment – the week before lockdown.

"We found ourselves home with no care plan or carers for Sarah," Mrs Matheson said.

"I am very aware of the plight of carers for children and young adults with complex needs.

"Isolation and lack of social activities, even at normal times, is painful but now in lockdown, it is so painful and confusing and carers are without help support and respite.

"My day is now full of keeping Sarah occupied and managing her health issues which include overnight gastric feeds and her complex epilepsy which demands care most nights."

She is in contact via social media with other carers and parents isolated with their young ones with complex needs.

"It is extremely difficult not being able to access normal routine and then to have respite cut which was for most only a little but a lifeline has been distressing for so many," she said.

Mrs Matheson said like many small charities, the Haven Appeal has had to stop its activities and events.

"Also, we are not providing a key service yet so no help can be given at this time," she said.

"This and the plight of carers, whom the Haven Appeal aims to help, moved me into action."

"Carers are often not part of a team to be cheering one another along. They are isolated doing long shifts night and day – lifting, nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, teaching and play work, cooking, cleaning all in a 24-hour period.

"This time will pass but I felt challenged as to what could I be doing to help carers and the appeal."

Although not a seasoned camper, she invited friends and family to sponsor her to sleep in a small pop-up tent in the garden.

"Sarah joined me the first night but gastric feeding is not the best in a tent so one night was enough!" she said.

Although she found 4am was the coldest time and felt she was sleeping on a board, she enjoyed being woken by the birds and was fascinated by the starry skies.

The appeal, launched by the Elsie Normington Foundation, has raised £1.2 million towards its £3.5 million target. The Haven Centre will be built on a derelict site in Murray Road, Smithton.

Related: Trailblazing Haven Centre plans pass planning milestone

PICTURES: Ross-shire woman spearheads fundraising push for Haven Centre

Cromarty dippers take chilly plunge for Haven Appeal

More news from Ross-shire

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More