Gamechangers - The Kindness of Strangers
Fletcher's Fund may only be a small childhood cancer charity, but WOW – what a massive week we've had.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was going about my business, juggling the whirlwind that is parenting small children alongside running a charity, when I received the email.
Out of the blue Steve Bland got in touch to say that he had been told about our charity and would I be interested in appearing on the You, Me & the Big C podcast as part of their 'Gamechangers' series?
To say I was completely floored by this is an understatement.
The You, Me and the Big C podcast was the brainchild of broadcaster and journalist, Rachael Bland who launched it with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon in early 2018. After Rachael died of breast cancer in September 2018, Deborah and Lauren continued the podcast (as per Rachael's wishes) along with Rachael's husband, Steve.
I know what a huge deal the podcast is in the cancer community, the amazing work the team have done to bring the conversation into the mainstream, and the incredible comfort it has been to the countless listeners whose lives have been touched by cancer.
These people are inspirational, and the difference they have made is so huge, and so well-publicised, that I must admit I was more than a little bit star-struck when they got in touch to invite me onto the podcast.
I almost – almost – said no. Can you believe that?
We know our work makes a difference and we love the fact that we have managed to help so many families, but I never – not in a million years – expected anybody to notice our little charity, let alone people so prominent in the cancer community.
So, I don't mind telling you that I was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED at the prospect of appearing on the podcast.
My imposter syndrome-ometer was blowing a gasket and my anxiety was through the roof, but I soon got over myself when I remembered why we are doing it.
Fletcher deserves a platform. I needed to get my big girl knickers on for his sake, and for the sake of other children and their families going through the absolute devastation a childhood cancer diagnosis brings.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity to shine a light on the work we do in Fletcher's memory and the importance of play and art therapy for babies, children and teenagers going through such gruelling treatment.
Not only is it crucial for healthy brain development, play and art therapies reduce stress and provide a great distraction, which can only help make this horrific time slightly more bearable.
And what total heroes hospital play therapists are. I am so proud that we are able to support them in their vital work.
Recording the podcast
It all happened so quickly. I was emailed by Steve and then in no time at all I was on Zoom, recording (after a slight technical hitch courtesy of Deborah!) the story of Fletcher's Fund with Deborah, Lauren and Steve.
They were so kind and welcoming, and gave me more than enough space and time to talk about Fletcher, our experience of his diagnosis, his treatment and the most heart-breaking and devastating goodbye.
I was so grateful to have the opportunity to share the work we do in Fletcher's name and it could not have come at a better time.
As I say on the podcast, we estimate that we will see around a £20K drop in donations over the next year due to the impact of Covid-19.
When our usual annual income is only £25K per year, it's not hard to imagine what this will mean in terms of the help we are able to provide. We have already had to pause the grants we award.
The incredible response
Thanks to the podcast, we can begin to hope again. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we are by the response.
I found it difficult to listen back to the episode and full-on pretended it wasn't happening when it was released on Tuesday, by muting my notifications and running away to the zoo for the day!
I am eternally grateful that so many others listened and were moved by the story.
There have been tears, I won't lie. Lots of tears. It chokes me up to see what generosity can come from the kindness of strangers.
Having experienced it first-hand, I can tell you what a difference your donations will bring to countless poorly children and their families.
At the time of writing this, we have received donations of around £2,000, which is unprecedented in such a short space of time. We are absolutely blown away by it.
And it's not just the donations. People have got in touch to offer to volunteer, send craft supplies, or donate their time and expertise. The response has been phenomenal.
So, on behalf of all of us here at Fletcher's Fund, I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.
An extra-special thanks goes to the person who brought us to Steve's attention. We don't know who you are, but if you're reading this, please know that we are so, so grateful to you.
You don't know what your kindness means to us.