Right back at the beginning when I set it up I said it was like a co-operative of like-minded individuals, all wanting to do something to make the lives of another group of individuals, a bit better. In our case those individuals we support are children and young people with cancer and their families.
I don’t think I anticipated quite how successful we would become! I am delighted that we have raised over £200,000 in just over 2 years towards our £1m goal. And that’s on top of what we do on a daily basis to support the children and their families.
We provide weekly snacks to the local oncology ward at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh. In addition to being for the young cancer patients the snacks are also provided for the parents too. Obviously, parents usually want to stay by their child’s bed day and night. Having snacks in the ward kitchen allows them to pop along for breakfast or a snack lunch/dinner without having to leave the ward.
We provide items like the tubs of instant porridge, or tubs of cornflakes (then you only have to add hot water or milk and you have breakfast), cartons of ready chopped fruit, full fat yogurt, individual portions of cheese, oatcakes, fromage frais, small desserts, dips, ice cream and biscuits. For special occasions like Christmas day and New Year’s Day we provide full meals that the parents can cook when it suits them. (On those days they are able to have kitchen facilities in the CLIC Villa).
Parents are remembered too in our Parent Packs. Hospital stays for cancer patients are often not planned, and families have no chance to prepare. We have thoughtfully put together packs of items – some essential, some just treats – like GHD shampoo/conditioner, Molton Brown shower gel and body lotion, notepad, notelets, pen and postage stamps, a mini fan, relaxation CD. Dads get shaving gel and razor. Following the success of those packs we also now provide overnight packs for the occasions when a child is told (often after routine blood tests at a clinic apt) that they have to stay in. Small packs for parents and teenage patients are ready for them.
Our programme of workshops is running well. One of our Young Ambassadors, herself still fighting cancer, is our workshop co-ordinator. Ailsa has just turned 20 and does a sterling job on managing and organising the workshops: from cake decorating to plate painting to a cosmetics workshop and a fun day at a farm and Ailsa is learning new skills too. It’s a win-win situation.
Social workers and other health professionals at the hospital know they can ask us for other requests too. From the everyday (a dongle for a laptop to allow the vital access to the internet!) to the practical – helping with garden tidying, providing 50% deposit on a Motability car for a young man wanting to return to college but unable to do so without transport. We also helped a young family whose 8-year-old son has cancer: his mum gave birth to a premature baby and we helped the family by providing some nursery furniture. One of the guiding principles of It’s Good 2 Give is that it’s not just patients affected by cancer, it’s whole families, and everything we do thought-out accordingly.
That’s what we do but how we do it is another team effort. I have a rota of ladies who shop for the snacks, label them and deliver them to the ward each week. (In January, after my stepson’s accident, the team got in touch with each other and organised a system to deal with the snacks delivery without involving me. This was a kindness I appreciated almost beyond measure).
Three very important words to me and It’s Good 2 Give are kindness, appreciation and gratitude. I am a huge believer in the Pay it Forward movement and random acts of kindness. As you may know if you have read earlier articles by me, I have enormous appreciation and gratitude for my life and I extend that to the people who help me in my fundraising challenges.
The community of volunteers and supporters who help us mean a great deal to me. We can only achieve our goals with their support. It doesn’t matter to me how you support us, I welcome all levels of support – whether that is joining in a bucket collection, organising a plant sale or other event, being one of the backstage crew at events, doing our IT or accounting. I love them all.
My closing quote today comes from Maya Angelou
“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!”