Author Archives: Kate Driver

iamproperty supports Tiny Lives for a 3rd year

iamproperty have selected Tiny Lives as their charity of the year for a third consecutive year!

They have raised over £30,000 in the past two years and cannot wait to partner with them again!

Supporting Tiny Lives over a long period of time allows iamproperty see the wonderful impact their kind donations make to our neonatal families!
In 2022, they funded Miniboos and in 2023 funded additional hours of social care! We’ve also had lovely members of staff volunteering in our offices including wrapping the neonatal families Christmas gifts!

We’ve loved getting to know this wonderful team and look forward to working with them in 2024!

If your business would like to work with and support Tiny Lives, please email Rachel Hardwick at

Which group best suits myself and my baby?

We have a number of support groups and classes for Neonatal Parents and we understand it can be both overwhelming and confusing to identify which classes/groups best suit your needs. We’ve put together a flowchart to help you better identify which group/class is best for you and your baby.

Meet, Chat, Learn Classes
Our Meet, Chat, Learn Classes are open exclusively to families from Newcastle’s RVI Neonatal Unit & Transitional Care and range from Baby Yoga and Massage to Music, Movement and Sensory. They are fully funded and are the perfect way to bond with your baby and meet Neonatal parents in a supportive environment. 

You can find out more here

Stay and Play
We know how hard it is for new parents who have left Ward 35 being unable to meet up face-to-face with other parents who understand the neonatal experience. Our Stay and Play sessions take place on a monthly basis at the Alan Shearer Centre. These sessions take place on a Saturday morning and provide an opportunity for parents to meet other parents who share their experience and meet with Tiny Lives staff and peer supporters in a relaxed and friendly environment while the little ones play.

Stay and Splash
We know how hard it is for new parents who have left Ward 35 being unable to meet up face-to-face with other parents who understand the neonatal experience. Our Stay and Splash sessions take place on a monthly basis at Paddlepod Whitley Bay. These sessions take place on a Sunday afternoon and provide an opportunity for parents to meet other parents who share their experience and meet with Tiny Lives staff and peer supporters. We have access to the pool, play area and cafe.

The Bubbles Groups are support and developmental groups facilitated by the Newcastle Community Nursing Team and Newcastle 0-19 service for parents whose babies have been discharged (up to 2 years/walking independently) from Ward 35 at the RVI.

For more information please download this leaflet. You can book on here.

Mams Chat & Dads Team
Both Mams Chat & the SCBU Dads Team are made up of parents with lived experience of having a baby on the Neonatal Unit & Transitional Care. The experience for Dads and Mams is often very different and both groups are available to offer support and lend an ear. You can access the WhatsApp group for both of our support groups.

35 Miles for Ward 35!

We need YOU to run, walk, cycle, skate, hula-hoop (however you would like) 35 miles in January to support Tiny Lives and Ward 35!

We’re in the same boat as you. We’ve eaten far too much this Christmas and we’re not feeling ourselves but our 35 for 35 challenge is here to save the day!

Covering 35 miles throughout the month of January is a realistic and attainable goal that will help you kickstart your 2023 the right way all whilst raising funds for Tiny Lives!

By encouraging your friends and family to sponsor your challenge, you’ll be raising vital funds for premature, sick newborn babies and neonatal families. You could event get the kids involved and make it a family activity!

Fancy the challenge?

Step 1 – Create a fundraising page. we recommend JustGiving. Simply click ‘Fundraise for Us’ to get started. 

Step 2 – Spread the word. Share the news of your amazing commitment on social media, with friends and colleagues, with everyone! The more people who get access to your fundraising page, the more donations you may get.

Step 3 – Get moving! Whether you prefer to move indoors or outdoors, little and often, or long-distance, as long as you manage the 35 miles before 31st Jan, you’ll have completed something incredible! A tracking app such as Strava can be useful for keeping track of how far you’ve gone (and it integrates with Just Giving too!) You can also track your distance using your Fitbit or Apple watch!

We’ll be behind you all of the way, so if you need anything during your challenge just email us – we’d love to see some pics too if you do choose to take part! 

Your support will make a huge difference to our neonatal families.
You can find out about what we fund here to help you motivate yourself to move!

Tiny Lives 2023 Charity Ball Gallery

The Tiny Lives 2023 Charity Ball will take place on Saturday 7th October 2023 at the Hilton Hotel Newcastle/Gateshead.

Thank you to our sponsors;

Headline Sponsor – Knights
Associate Sponsor – Pin Point Recruitment
RVI Ward 35 Staff Table – Rob Armstrong
RVI Ward 35 Staff Table – TwentyOne Leadership Ltd
Sparkling Drinks Reception and Entertainment – Northern Goldsmiths

The Tiny Lives Ball is a great evening of fundraising including both a raffle and auction with some great prizes to be won. This year, our host was the always wonderful Pete Graves!

The evening started with a sparkling drinks reception, followed by a three course meal and throughout the evening guests were entertained with the return of everyone’s favourite, the ‘Flag Fiesta’ where everyone’s guaranteed a win, a photobooth and other fun for all.

Please remember Tiny Lives is an independent, local charity supporting premature and sick newborn babies and their families, who have experienced life in the Neonatal Unit at the RVI in Newcastle. We can only do this because of our wonderful supporters.

Music on the evening was provided by the Charlie’s Angels Band.

We’d also like to say a HUGE thank you Toni and Kris for their wonderful photography skills! Toni and Kris captured all images on the evening and we can’t thank them enough for documenting the evening.

Our 2023 Sponsors

Tiny Lives Ball Gallery

Click on the images to download a high resolution image. 

EE Tyneside Raises £15,803 for Tiny Lives

EE Tyneside have embarked on an epic challenge over the last eight weeks! The team have put an astonishing effort into fundraising coming up with some super creative ways to raise money. Events included sea dips, football tournaments, cake sales, rounders, head shaves, VintEEd (vinted inspired clothes sales) tombolas, ice bucket challenges and even more!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Alix Burke for nominating Tiny Lives for the eight weeks of fundraising. Alix’s twins Chase and Tatum (featured in the photo!) spent time on the unit and so did her six year old Frankie!

We’d also like to mention Chloe Weston, Janine Peake, and Chloe Burns for their wonderful efforts.

Rachel Hardwick, our Funding and Partnerships Officer said ‘The amount EE have raised in eight weeks is astonishing. The efforts their team have gone to to raise vital funds for Tiny Lives is incredible and we can’t thank everyone enough for fundraising for Tiny Lives.’

Happy Retirement Pat!

Tiny Lives would like to wish Pat Dulson a very happy retirement (we’ll miss her lots!). Many of you will have met Pat during your time on the unit. Her knowledge, expertise and kindness shone through everyday and her commitment to supporting Neonatal Families made her such a beloved member of staff. We know we aren’t the only ones who will miss seeing Pat’s lovely face on the unit but we hope she enjoys her well deserved retirement!

Patricia Dulson, Clinical Specialist Neonatal Physiotherapist has retired from her current role at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Pat came to Newcastle to train as a Physiotherapist in 1979 and started work at Newcastle General Hospital in January 1983. Pat has had a long career within the Paediatric Physiotherapy Team and in the last 20 years has worked within neonatal care as a neonatal specialist physiotherapist. Pat retires after 40 years’ service for the NHS.

Pat was one of the country’s first specialist Neonatal Physiotherapists, having been funded by the Tiny Lives Trust to develop Developmental Care and Neonatal Follow-up Services at the Newcastle Neonatal Service. Her exemplary knowledge, experience and expertise has been the cornerstone of excellence in Neonatal Physiotherapy and Neonatal Care locally, regionally (within the Northern Neonatal Network) and nationally.

Locally, in Newcastle Pat used her clinical skill and passion for supporting babies and families to develop developmental care guidelines and support the implementation of these practises within the Newcastle Neonatal Service. This is included Tiny Lives funding developmental care aids and environmental improvement for babies and their families (such as incubator covers for light protection and sound monitors for sound protection), positioning aids (such as Claire’s Nests) and Miniboos. Pat also designed and delivered the Developmental Care Teaching for health care professionals working in Neonatal Care.

Pat, along with her consultant colleague Dr David Milligan, recognised that babies who had been born very prematurely or those who had suffered brain injury at birth often went on to have difficulties with movement development and learning after discharge home. Together, they developed one of the first neonatal follow-up services in the UK and offered specialist multidisciplinary clinics to infants (and their families) most at risk of neurodevelopmental difficulties allowing infants to be monitored over time and receive early intervention.

Clinically, Pat has continually sought to develop her own clinical skills, keeping up to date with evidence-based care. She developed the Neonatal Follow-up service, setting up one of the first Physiotherapy led General Movements Assessment service within the UK. More recently, Pat was a pioneer with implementing the Tiny Lives funded vCreate secure video technology for healthcare transformation with neonatal follow-up (in Newcastle and the Northern Neonatal Network). This service allowed families to upload videos of their baby’s movement development for virtual interaction with specialist clinicians. This service was expediated by the need for virtual access to healthcare during Covid-19 pandemic.

Pat has always been very generous with her time and clinical expertise. This was highlighted when she developed the Neonatal Developmental Care Guidelines for the Northern Neonatal Network in 2014. The development of these guidelines led to Pat working with the FINE (Family and Infant Neurodevelopmental Education) team to deliver the first Foundation toolkit for Family Centred Developmental Care to staff working within the Northern Neonatal Network. The network continues to fund Annual FINE course training. 

Pat was the founding member of the Northern Neonatal Network Allied Health Professional Peer Support Group. Pat started this group to support acute and community-based physiotherapists working with babies and families who had experienced neonatal care. In addition, Pat used this forum to co-ordinate and offer education for therapists interested in working within neonatal care. Pat also founded the Northern Neonatal Network General Movements Assessment Peer Support Group. The General Movements Assessment is a highly evidenced based assessment to identify infants at high risk of cerebral palsy.

Pat was an active member of APCP Neonatal Committee between 2008-2014, developing guidelines, forming relationships with wider Neonatal National Groups (such as British Association of Perinatal Medicine). Pat has always been happy to share her skills and expertise and contributing to the development of APCP Neonatal Physiotherapy guidelines and Neonatal AHP Conferences. The APCP Executive Committee have awarded Pat an APCP gold award for services to neonatal physiotherapy that she was presented with today.

Pat has been an active supporter of research in neonatal care and neonatal physiotherapy. Pat was involved in data collection using Bayleys Assessments of Preterm Infants for EPICure studies, development of E-Tips intervention for infants suffering from perinatal stroke and research into Lacey Assessment of Preterm Infants, General Movements Assessment and outcomes for baby’s born preterm. Pat’s contribution to research is highlighted by her research publications.

Pat continues her support for improving neonatal care by participating as a board member of the Tiny Lives Trust.

Words kindly provided by Claire Marcroft.

Spotlight: Tiny Lives Peer Supporters

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, Jacqui Adams our Project Development Officer has written an article highlighting the wonderful work our Peer Support Volunteers carry out.

Our Peer Support Project offers a vital community to parents while their baby is on the Neonatal Unit at the RVI and once they have been discharged home. Tiny Lives Peer Support volunteers are all parents with lived experience of having a baby on the Neonatal Unit. With the help of the Hospital Volunteers Service in the recruitment and training process, we can provide 1:1 and group support to families at the time they need it most by connecting them to other Mams and Dads who understand all the ups, downs and quirks of the Neonatal Unit from a parent’s perspective. They truly have walked in their shoes and use their lived experience to offer a listening ear, support, and encouragement at one of the most stressful times of a family’s life.

The project began in December 2017 with Dads, facilitated by Matt Cray, one on the Neonatal Nurses, and supported by Tiny Lives. By 2019 there was a core group of 6 dedicated Dads. In October 2019, the Dads Team volunteers completed their hospital volunteer training and started to hold weekly 1:1 drop in sessions for dads on the unit. In 2020 the Dads Team were joined by Mams peer support volunteers too.

Current Peer Support Initiatives:

The SCBU Dads Team (specifically for Neonatal Dads)
Mams Team (specifically for Neonatal Mams)
Stay and Play and Buggy Walks (for families once they’ve been discharged)

The days can be long on the Neonatal Unit and as a regional level 3 centre often parents are far from home, family, and friends. The Peer Support volunteers go onto the unit at least twice a week. They offer a friendly conversation and someone to relate to.

As a Dad, you may have a completely different emotional experience to a Mam when your child has to spend time on the Unit. The Dads’ Team helps to address this. Alongside our face-to-face support we also run two closed WhatsApp groups; ‘Dads’ Chat’ and ‘Mams’ Chat’ which provide extra support and enables parents to connect with peer support at a time that suits them, these groups provide an informal supportive network for parents to support each other and share hints and tips about having a neonatal baby. The Peer Support team have also hosted a family pizza night encouraging parents to take a well-earned break and grab a bite to eat as this is often something parents on a Neonatal Unit forget to do!

Dads often have to go back to work before their baby is discharged from hospital and may also have other children at home to care for while their partners spend time on the Neonatal Unit. We also hold a ‘Dads Get Together’, this group meets outside the hospital grounds but near to the RVI. Our Dads’ Team encourage Dads with babies currently on the unit and those now home to meet up for a chat over some food and a cuppa. It’s a safe space for Dads to talk about what’s happening and share some of the challenges.

Below are some lovely comments we’ve received surrounding our peer support team.
“I was hesitant to go at first, but James was fantastic and made it all feel like a normal conversation with a mate”
“I never expected it (worry/stress) to be a thing for me but given how much I have been struggling, I gave it a shot and have nothing but good things to say about the Dads team and Tiny Lives”
“Thank you for helping me feel strong enough and ready to get back out and help”

Our Peer Support Project is a great example of partnership work between Tiny Lives Trust, the Hospital Volunteer Service and the Neonatal staff team who promote the benefits of peer support to families on the unit. However, this service would not be possible or sustainable without the commitment, enthusiasm and time offered by our wonderful Peer Support volunteers.

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication!

Tiny Lives Launches 2023 Father’s Day Appeal

We’re happy to be launching our Father’s Day appeal for 2023! We ask you to spare a thought for those dads spending the day on the unit.

Supporting Tiny Lives this Father’s Day allows Tiny Lives to continue vital work supporting premature and sick newborn babies and neonatal families both on and off the unit. Your kind donation could fund a parking permit to allow a dad to spend time with his little one, or fund counselling for a dad who needs that extra support.

When you donate to our Father’s Day Appeal, you will receive a lovely card and badge as a small token of our appreciation.
Why not gift this lovely card to a special dad in your life?

How to Donate to Tiny Lives Father’s Day Appeal

Step 1. Follow this link to Donate to the Father’s Day Appeal and fill in the relevant information.* Please note, these cards are blank inside.

Step 2. Know you have made a positive difference to the life of a Ward 35 Dad this Father’s Day.

Thank You!

Sibling Support Group

An opportunity to join an informal, supportive group and meet other families who have spent time on Ward 35 with their baby or babies who have sadly died. There will be memory making activities such as crafts with a festive theme and refreshments will be provided. Children of all ages are welcome, no matter how long ago their sibling(s) were on the unit.

The group is facilitated by staff from the Neonatal Unit and is supported by Tiny Lives.
It is open to all families/siblings no matter how long ago they were on the Unit.

The next date for the support group is on Saturday 2nd December.
Please click here to book your space.

Tiny Lives Launches 2023 Mother’s Day Appeal

Mother’s Day is an incredibly special day and as always, we ask you to spare a thought for those mams spending the day on the unit.

By supporting Tiny Lives this Mother’s Day, you can help us to continue vital work supporting premature and sick newborn babies and neonatal families both on and off the unit.

This year, your kind donation could help fund counselling for a mam whose baby has passed away, or fund a parking permit to allow a mam to spend time with her baby.

When you donate to our Mother’s Day Appeal, you will receive a lovely card and badge as a small token of our appreciation. Why not give this to a special mam in your life?

How to Donate to the Mother’s Day Appeal
Step 1. Follow this link to Donate to the Mother’s Day Appeal and fill in the relevant information.
Step 2. Know you have made a positive difference to the life of Mams this Mother’s Day.
Step 3. Receive your card, write your own message* and give it to the special Mam in your life! *Cards are blank on the inside

Thank You!