When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the effect on their family is devastating in more ways than one.
The financial implications of a parent becoming a fulltime carer often means the family slowly slides into poverty.
In 2004 the Guardian Angels Trust was set up specifically to support terminally ill children and their families.
The trust helps in practical ways with things such as supermarket vouchers, help with household bills and funeral costs.
The Ellerslie Sunrise Rotary Club has been supporting the trust for a few years now. It is something Win Wilson, head of the club's community and environment committee, is passionate about.
"A few years ago someone from the trust came to the club as a guest speaker and I just thought it was a wonderful thing."
After she retired Mrs Wilson asked if there was anything she could do to help the trust.
She was put in touch with Jess Jamieson, a social worker for the palliative care team at Starship Children's Hospital.
The defining measure for a family to receive help from the Guardian Angels Trust is that there has been a referral from the child's consultant to the paediatric palliative care team at Starship.
"Jess asked if I would be interested in minding a 2 year old girl once a week while her mother does her shopping."
The toddler has a terminal illness and doesn't walk or talk. Mrs Wilson reads and sings to her.
"I think she's starting to recognise me now. She smiles when she hears my voice."
The trust also has an Adopt-a-Family scheme, which Mrs Wilson has convinced her Rotary club to support.
Every week the Rotary Club of Ellerslie Sunrise members bring along a grocery item to their morning meeting. Mrs Wilson collects these and makes a delivery every month or so to the club's adopted family in Mt Wellington.
"She is a solo mother with three children, aged 17, 14 and 11. The 11-year-old is terminally ill."
She says delivering the goodies is very fulfilling, because the club members are very generous.
"It really appeals to people that they can do good for someone and they get quite excited about it. People buy treats for them at Christmas. It's incredible how it all accumulates."
Mrs Wilson says Guardian Angels is providing a much-needed service for families.
"Often the mother has to leave work and so they lose one income. They're committed with mortgages and it puts them under real financial strain."
See guardianangels.co.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News