With a robust calendar of celebratory events we knew that 2014 was going to be an exciting year for the Trust but we have been overwhelmed by an amazing initial six months. Ten years of providing emotional, practical and social support to families of seriously-ill and life-limited young people has been an enormous privilege; we are so proud to walk alongside our families from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond and our commitment to families remains steadfastly at the core of our operations. We know from some of the wonderful feedback we receive that our ever- evolving programme of services is much appreciated; for many we are considered a lifeline and a constant in lives that are frequently affected by unplanned change, worry and uncertainty. We remain focussed on listening to our families and responding with appropriate actions, helping where, when and how in order to meet the needs of whole families and individual members.
There have been many highlights over the past six months, too numerous to mention in their entirety, but here are a few of our favourites:
Outreach Services - Our service has expanded in 2014 with support from the Big Lottery, who have helped to fund some of our outreach team. Sue, Carla, Claire, Kelly and Peter, together with our Welfare Officer Jacquie now offer an outreach service to more than 200 families within the counties of Berkshire, Bucks, Surrey, Hampshire and Oxon. From listening to our families we have recognised the need to provide ongoing support beyond our family respite breaks at The Bluebells, so being able to extend our services to families whilst at home and in hospital has proven incredibly effective. We are pleased to announce that Katie will join us very shortly as our Youth Worker, with a Finance Worker to follow.
Blending our team with service user volunteers - We are delighted to see an increasing number of parents joining our team as volunteers. Tanya and Lyndsay are regular volunteers at The Bluebells, whilst Ben has become a befriender. Having our families intrinsically involved with the delivery of our service helps to keep us in touch with common issues, as well as being completely in keeping with our ethos that we are a “Family of Families”.
Our Families have a collective voice - In March the Bluebells’ Choir performed at the Mayor of Basingstoke’s concert at Festival Place. Parents, grandparents, siblings, children and members of the Trust team faultlessly sang Gary Barlow’s ‘Sing’ under the expert tutelage of parent Mark Halls and our Music Therapist Rebecca Pryce- there was not a dry eye in the house!
Our Garden of Reflection and Woodland Trail - Our amazing gardener Pam Duff continues to inspire and motivate countless volunteers to turn a stony, weed infested area into an incredible garden at the rear of The Bluebells. Our Corporates’ Officer Jo King has networked with so many companies who choose to give their time, energy and services to create a wonderful new area which will enhance the magical qualities of a visit to The Bluebells.
Creating networking opportunities through The Bridge - Our Policy Officer Kathryn Griffith successfully organised our first foray into networking with the inaugural Bridge event, which brought together service users and service providers with the aim of connecting relevant parties and improving understanding of the issues affecting both sides.
A reception on the terrace at the House of Commons - Once again our good friend Sir George Young kindly supported the Trust by hosting a reception to highlight the achievements of our charity over the past decade. With many of our families having the opportunity to meet many MP’s we were able to highlight some of the many issues that affect those caring for children with complex health needs.
Fundraiser of the Year! - Our Chief Development Officer Caroline Holton scooped the highly prestigious Gill Astarita’s Fundraiser of the Year award at the 2014 Institute of Fundraising awards. We are very proud of her much deserved accolade and are delighted to see she is a leader in her field.
We are recipients of the charity MBE - We are so proud to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Recognising the commitment, passion and energy of our volunteers and staff, this achievement is a truly special endorsement of our cause and the people who make our charity such a unique organisation.
Over the past six months Sebastian’s Action Trust has been at the forefront of delivering a much valued service to families coping with enormous challenges on a daily basis. As always, we recognise the need to continue to find new ways to address the difficulties that affect our families and we are proud of our reputation for being proactive, innovative and responsive to critical need. We look forward to an action packed second half of the year and are so grateful to our supporters for their continued commitment to our cause. Sebastian would be so proud of all that has been achieved in his name- here’s to even more to come!