The size of the task facing Ronald McDonald House

The Cooke family are one of more than 3700 families that stay at Ronald McDonald Houses each year. They stayed five ...
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The Cooke family are one of more than 3700 families that stay at Ronald McDonald Houses each year. They stayed five months in the Christchurch house.

One hundred families will spend tonight in a Ronald McDonald House.

The charity helps families who are away from home with a hospitalised child, providing free accommodation and support services – and it's a big job.

In 2016, the houses in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland hosted 3722 families across their 160 rooms, totalling 41,698 nights of accommodation.

Ronald McDonald with volunteers at Wellington's RMH Supper Club fundraiser last week. In 2016, RMH had 763 regular ...
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Ronald McDonald with volunteers at Wellington's RMH Supper Club fundraiser last week. In 2016, RMH had 763 regular volunteers.

The longest family stay was 293 nights.

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In Wellington, 267 families stayed 4618 nights, at a cost of more than $550,000.

Julia Macer, with daughter Lily, says the support from RMH enabled her family to focus on what was important - getting ...
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Julia Macer, with daughter Lily, says the support from RMH enabled her family to focus on what was important - getting Lily better.

Ronald McDonald House (RMH) chief executive Wayne Howett says free accommodation and support helps families focus on their child in hospital.

"This helps to relieve stresses like paying for a place to sleep near the hospital, cooking family meals and needing a friendly ear to listen on tough days.

"For children going through treatment, sometimes the best medicine of all is having family nearby."

Ronald McDonald House in Wellington - right across the road from the hospital.
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Ronald McDonald House in Wellington - right across the road from the hospital.

RMH saves families more than $8.5 million a year in accommodation, meal and parking costs while their children are in hospitals, alleviating a huge financial burden, Howett says.

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It costs more than $7m a year to run its programmes. Annual fundraising events such as Supper Club dinner parties help contribute to this total, but the charity also relies on donations from businesses, individuals, trusts and community groups.

There is also a heavy reliance on volunteers. In 2016, 763 regular volunteers helped across all the houses, either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. This contributed 125,452 hours of work.

The Cooke family, from Porirua, spent two months at the Christchurch house, and three at the Auckland house, when 9-year-old Lily was unwell.

Mum Julia Macer says that, without the house, she doesn't know how they would have survived.

Accommodation so close to the hospitals was crucial. If they had had to pay for motels, the costs would have been astronomical, she says.

Equally as important was the fact that Macer, husband Russell and son Liam all stayed in the houses while Lily was in hospital.

"In keeping us together it helped us to work through what we had to work through.

"Being together was the best thing really. When they went home for about two weeks and I had to do it all by myself, it was just too hard."

 - Stuff

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