On the 4th September, I wrote a blog post titled ‘Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain. (NJIB)
I had submitted my 60 second application video and used the blog post as part of my #HireSali Campaign, to encourage people to ‘vote’ for me.
I am delighted to share with you that I have been shortlisted for The Nicest Job, which involves working with 40 charities over 12 months. I, and the other 7 shortlisted candidates, have each been allocated a charity to work (drawn from a ‘hat’ containing the aforementioned 40 charities) and have been challenged – to raise as much money and awareness – as possible, for our allocated charity, by 2nd October. I have been given Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, which is particularly poignant, as I was a bereaved child myself.
Many years ago, I volunteered at the head office of Winston’s Wish, helping with admin and mail-shots. In addition, I assisted with a few of the charity’s promotions in the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham and took my daughters and one of my friends, carol singing – locally – with Winston’s Wish ‘collection buckets’. My perception at the time was that Winston’s Wish was a very well-known, well-supported charity, so when I was tasked by NJIB to ‘raise as much awareness as possible’ of the charity, I wondered what I could do to further awareness of a charity which was already so well-known.
I have always been taught, and in turn have coached others, never to ‘assume’ so I decided to start my challenge with a straw-pole, asking my Facebook friends whether they were aware of Winston’s Wish or not. They just had to comment with a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’. The results surprised me. There was a very clear 50/50 split, with the friends living in and around Gloucestershire answering ‘yes’ and those living further away (although as close as Wiltshire) answering ‘no’. The exceptions were the friends who had used, or knew someone who had used, the services of the charity. The results gave me a lots of scope to ‘raise awareness’.
Did you know that every day, in the UK, more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent? Winston’s Wish has a vision that every bereaved child has access to support as and when they need it and a mission to ensure the resilience of bereaved children by providing high quality services that meet their needs.
Julie Stokes created the charity in 1992. Julie was a clinical psychologist at the time and it was an interaction with the son of a terminally ill patient, which propelled her into investigating how children with a terminally ill parent and bereaved children could be better served. She travelled to the USA and Canada on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and was so inspired by what she saw, that she returned to the UK and set up Winston’s Wish, which has since become the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK.
So what is Winston’s Wish and what does the charity do? Winston’s Wish supports children, their families and the professionals who support them following the death of a parent or sibling – the most fundamental loss a child can face. The charity provides professional therapeutic support via a National Helpline, face-to-face support and a website.
Not only does their website offer a wealth of information and guidance, which is divided into helpful categories, and translated into several different languages (Spanish, Bengali, Swedish, Arabic and Polish) but it also offers a ‘Helpline’, which is available on 08452 03 04 05 and operates Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm.
Death comes in many forms, and the Winston’s Wish website offers a range of information and advice on topics such as ‘dealing with serious illness’, ‘talking about death’, ‘bereavement from suicide’, ‘bereavement from homicide’,’ supporting children of military families’ and much more. There is also a specialist area of the website for young people, for professionals and also an online shop with plenty of expert publications and resources for free and for sale.
Winston’s Wish is a national charity, which is reliant on voluntary donations – they need to raise £2.5million every year to continue their support for bereaved children and their families. In 2014/15 these donations equated to 93% of their income. For every £1 they spend, 74p goes on direct delivery. Charities are being scrutinised regarding the cost of fundraising campaigns, but I am pleased to report that for every £1 Winston’s Wish spends on fundraising, they raise £4.47 which is an incredibly impressive return on investment.
I have embraced the challenge to raise funds for this wonderful charity and have set up a Facebook page called A Penny 4 Your Memory, where I am encouraging people to leave a happy or funny memory, which not only makes them smile or laugh, but will do the same for others reading the post. When they leave a memory, they also make a donation to Winston’s Wish via www.givepenny.com/apenny4yourmemory Within 49 hours of being created, the Givepenny page reached the £500 target I had set, so I have amended the target to £750. Please do visit the Facebook page, leave a happy memory, donate and take time to read (and interact) with the memories which have already been posted. Warning… doing so may produce a warm, fuzzy feeling.
And for those of you who might be interested… my interview for The Nicest Job in Britain is on Monday 3rd October. Please wish me luck and please do share this blog post, to help me raise awareness of, and funds for, Winston’s Wish. This is more than just a NJIB challenge to me. Thank you.