What comes to mind when you think of McDonalds?

The Big Mac, Ronald McDonald or maybe the little donation boxes at McDonalds outlets in which put your change? Whatever does come to mind, it probably doesn’t quite do justice to the good work McDonalds is doing in supporting families…

A few weeks before I went into labour with my son I saw an advert about the Ronald McDonald charity (RMCH) and how it helps families who need housing whilst their children are in hospital. The mission of this charity is to keep families together. At the time I thought it was an amazing charity, but not once did it cross my mind that I would need this service in my own life. Only when my newborn son needed two weeks worth of care in Westminster did it hit home for me just how essential this charity is. My partner and I were extremely lucky to be approved for a room at the RHMC house for the duration of our son’s time in hospital.

So, if you have ever dropped spare change into the little donation boxes found at McDonalds outlets, you can rest assured that you have been supporting families and making a difference. RMHC supports children all around the world, covers over 62 countries, hosts 685+ core programmes worldwide and has supported millions of families. More than 136,000 volunteers from around the world dedicate their time and talent to ensure that the money raised goes directly to the different areas of the programme.

The programme truly is phenomenal and, in my experience, was nothing short of amazing and supportive. My partner and I were offered housing two days after arriving in Westminster. This helped significantly with the anxiety of being away from my newborn as I knew I was close-by and able to see him 24/7.  All that is required by RMHC is a £25 deposit which you can either donate or claim back at the end of your stay. Experiencing firsthand the benefits of this programme, we had to donate.

The house we stayed in was 5-star and nicer than some hotels I have stayed in. I was so impressed at how much support was offered, too: a constant supply of food delivered by Greggs and Marks & Spencers, and fresh fruit deliveries. Each family was well-catered for by individuals and restaurants, as well as by the on-site shop. We were able to help ourselves to free tea, coffee and leftover food. Most importantly, nothing was ever too much for the staff.

During our stay, we also managed to meet other families benefiting from the RMHC programme. I learnt that one couple from Manchester would possibly be in the house for an entire year while their child was receiving treatment in hospital. Hearing stories like these just illustrates how important these places are. It costs nothing to stay at RHMC, and it really does help families stay together when they have a sick child; not to mention the relief it provides in terms of your mental health!

Last year, more than $126 million was donated to the charity through McDonald’s restaurants. That amount could provide almost 1.6 million overnight stays for RMHC families. In an effort to show recognition and gratitude to the donors, each room is named after its respective donor. This was a really heartwarming aspect of the programme and it made me feel incredibly grateful to be reminded that a real person contributed to my wellbeing during that time.

RHMC is more than a place to stay they also provide:

  • Nutritious meal programmes
  • Education programs for outpatients and siblings who are missing school.
  • Services such as peer support, sibling resources, and activities.
  • Clinical service providers, who provide medical and dental care in vulnerable communities.

Since my experience in the RHMC House, I have raised money online. My intention, once we are Covid-safe, is to hold an in-person fundraiser to support this amazing charity. RHMC really have no idea how much they helped us and impacted our experience as new parents.

If you would like more information please check out https://www.rmhc.org and please donate your change when buying your burger!