I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It’s almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close

Shannon is almost one and has been with us since she was bornBefore her birth, her family knew that their baby would have a heart condition, preventing them from bringing her home to live with her parents and siblings.

These sisters do not have a normal relationship, as a little girl and her baby sister should. For a long time, Rihanna couldn’t really touch Shannon, or hug her. But during the time that the girls spent here together, I saw a bond developing between them. I watched how fond they were becoming of one another.

Rihanna is nine now, she is such a lovely little girl. She gets so excited to see her little sister, at the weekends and during school holidays. At the start, Shannon wasn't really aware of what was happening around her. But Rihanna was so patient, she would just sit by her side and chat and talk to her baby sister.

I think Rihanna sees me as the fun one; she likes to come and see me, because she knows I am the one who has the key to the toy box! But through this, we often end up chatting, talking about school and stuff like that. I can tell she is happy to be here with her family.

It’s very hard, to see families being separated sometimes. But then when they arrive, the excitement they feel at being brought together again is so positive. We try to focus on the positives of these stories. I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It's almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close.

Joanne Kiely - Digital Media & Fundraising Administrator at The Ronald McDonald House Charity