Monday 9 October 2017

A visit to the Ronald McDonald Charity House in Cardiff

I was recently invited to visit the Ronald McDonald charity house in Cardiff, located on the University Hospital of Wales site, directly opposite the Noah's Ark Children's hospital. 

Now, i'll be the first to admit that when I had heard about Ronald McDonald Houses before, I had no idea that it was actually a charity which is a shame and that's why i'm hoping to spread some awareness as it really is a fantastic charity.

The charity basically provides a home for families who's children are in hospital long term. It allows families to be close to their child and to also feel like they are in a home away from home. 

Ronald McDonald House Charities was born out of the unlikely partnership of Dr Audrey Evans, an oncologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, McDonald’s and the American Football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. on 15 October 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors. In the intervening years Ronald McDonald House Charities has spread across the world, forming new and independent branches in over 50 regions and countries. In the UK, Ronald McDonald House Charities was established as an independent charity in 1989. 

There are currently 14 houses in the UK, with Cardiff being the latest opening. It will provide accommodation for around 500 families each year, from across Wales and beyond. It's the first Ronald McDonald house in Wales.
The House is precisely 63 steps reach from the Hospital so you can see how close families really are to their loved ones.

I didn't really know what to expect from the house but when I arrived I was blown away. It's extremely modern, bright and has a real sense of calm and serenity about it.

I was most impressed with the garden. It's lovely to get some outdoor space considering the Heath Hospital is so busy. It was surprisingly quiet outside too. There was an amazing treehouse in the garden which was made by the contractors of the House Wilmott Dixon. They volunteered their own time to make the tree house out of recycled wood from their old temporary office on the Hospital grounds. 

The house itself has 30 bedrooms spread out on 3 floors. They also have the ability to add another floor when they reach full capacity.

The bedrooms were fab. Again I didn't expect them to be so nice. They were like a hotel room. Each room can sleep up to 4 people. Each room has an en-suite (which was nicer than my own bathroom) and access to a fully functioning laundry room, to dry and wash clothes. There is also a phone line in each room which is a direct line to the child's ward which I think is a fantastic, reassuring touch.

There are day rooms on all floors for the families to use, to cook and eat in and with a communal area to watch the TV or to read a book. I think it's a great concept of having everything communal as visiting hospitals can feel so isolating. It's good to keep socialising and chatting to others who you can relate with.

I asked how the rooms are allocated. It's through referrals from the Noah’s Ark Children Ward. Each hospital has to have a specialism to grant a Ronald McDonald House and for Cardiff, it is Neonatal. The House Assistants prioritise the families depending on critical illness, how far from home they are, their transport facilities and circumstances.

The house holds various family days and events such as craft days, concerts etc which is a great way of getting families and the community together.

The charity needs donations etc to keep running and keep housing families. Mcdonald's staff do lots of fab things to help raise money and one of the ladies that works in the Cardiff House recently took part in RunDisney in Paris (you can imagine how insanely jealous I was when I heard that). 

They aren't just looking for monetary donations. You can help in various other ways such as holding a sponsored event etc or buying something from their amazon wishlist, The wishlist is a compiled list of things for the day to day running of the House, such as washing up liquid, tin foil etc. It also includes any materials for events they run such as glitter for crafting and sweet bags for their Christmas Reindeer Food.

One thing that didn't occur to me was the fact that there will be families staying in the house over Christmas. This made me feel quite upset as I can't imagine what that would be like. Christmas is such a special, family time. I was pleased to hear that the Cardiff House is holding a Shoebox Appeal. They want to make sure the families have the best Christmas that they can and that includes giving them gifts. They are asking for supporters to fill a shoe box for each family for them to open Christmas day. This could include items such as sealed toiletries, pens, pencils, colouring books, toys, jewellery, rubber bouncy balls, new candles, chocolates, anything you can think families would like to open on Christmas day. If you would like to provide a box then please take one to the house, unwrapped. The boxes need to be checked before hand to make sure there are no items such as alcohol in the boxes. They are also looking for wrapping paper donations to then wrap up the boxes. 

I am definitely getting involved in the shoebox appeal. It breaks my heart to think of families not having a lovely Christmas that they deserve.

You can find out more information about the Ronald McDonald Charity Houses and in particular the Cardiff House by clicking on the following links. Also keep your eyes peeled over my social media to see my shoeboxes and to help me spread awareness.



  1. I absolutely love this concept. It's heartening when big business gives something back. Great post and well done to all involved

  2. I first heard about this when I went to a blogger event with McDonalds back in July. They make a fantastic contribution to the community

  3. Such a fantastic charity that offers parents that lifeline in a very stressful situation. I have to say the accommodation and building is pretty amazing, very stylish and great for people to be able to try and find some time to relax

    Laura x

  4. A fantastic charity for a worthy cause. I always make sure to donate whenever I'm at McDonalds. It also looks quite modern - I think environment is key for these kinds of things!


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