I was writing notes for a presentation I am doing next month at a conference. It took me back to the beginning – only 4 and a half years ago.
The reason we made the charity about children and young people with cancer was because a friend’s daughter was diagnosed aged just 10 – I visited them a few times and chatted with other families of young cancer patients realised how much the diagnosis affected the whole family.
And so, it was because of Iona and her family and other similar families that It’s Good 2 Give looks after young people aged from 0-25.
We started handing out our parent packs in 2009 and put in feedback forms – from those we constantly appraise what goes in the packs to make sure they are helpful as well as luxurious.
Early 2010 we started delivering the snacks – we had been asked by staff on the ward and took advice from the hospital dietician as to content and now we actually take the snack trolley round 3 days a week and we aim to extend that soon.
I remember the first few requests too –
Could we help a young family with a toddler get a trip to Thomas the Tank Engine Land?
Could we get a Barney dinosaur costume for a nurse to wear to entertain a baby?
Could we get a mobile phone for a teenager with cataract problems?
I said yes very quickly to these though learnt a lesson there too – say Yes I will do my best. I did manage to do them all but they were sure harder than I expected. The Barney outfit almost had me. All the costumes I could find were more like something someone would wear at Halloween – they were downright scarey they were so bad. Determination is a good thing too and I was determined to deal with all those requests – I think I even managed to beg a spa voucher for the mum going to Thomas the Tank Engine land from the hotel I found them to stay in. The Barney costume was fantastic in the end and the baby could hardly believe his eyes. Though I think Helen the play specialist lost a few pounds that day wearing it! We did manage to get the phone requested too and I still have the text with a smiley face from the teen after he set it up.
Those are big requests but we also managed a few smaller ones – the dongle delivered next day to a teen who was in the main ward and wanted internet access. She was delighted and still talks about it to this day.
I remember too how we added ironing vouchers to our list of practical support – one of the mums said on Facebook one night that she wished someone could do her ironing and I thought, wait a minute, we could do that. Not literally you understand – ironing is not my favourite pastime! I got in touch with a few small ironing businesses and set up a system for buying vouchers from them. So the businesses collect the laundry needing ironed, iron it and then deliver it back on hangers or folded whichever is your preference. We can give up to 4 vouchers per family – it’s a small gift but very much appreciated.
Our programme of workshops has grown too – the aim with those is to get families together and also to introduce young people to new skills – skills they may just do once and never again or perhaps introduce them to something that becomes their hobby or sport.
And then there is the Ripple Retreat – a place of peace or activity – the family’s choice – they can just stay in the retreat for the whole week or take advantage of activities that will be on offer nearby. Far more stunning than I anticipated or dreamt about – thanks to Tony Kettle and his oh so beautiful design and in an idyllic location thanks to the incredible kindness of David and Jean gifting us the land. The Retreat will be available to families in treatment and also for bereaved families in the two years after bereavement.
It’s been an interesting, inspirational, moving journey in the past five years and I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.