The brain tumour charity improving the lives of local families and how you can support it
Brain Tumour Awareness Week 2020 takes place from today through 31st October. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put immense strain on all charities, making awareness weeks and ongoing support more important than ever.
Bury-based SuperJosh: The Joshua Wilson Brain Tumour Charity is an incredible organisation we have been fortunate to work with over the years, which provides help to children who have or have had a brain tumour, while supporting their families with advice, guidance and financial solutions, with special focus on those who also have post-surgery disabilities.
To mark Brain Tumour Awareness Week, we spoke with SuperJosh founder Dawn Fidler about the charity’s work since the pandemic began, and how SuperJosh continues to provide vital support for families in the most challenging of circumstances…
This year has been difficult for so many. Can you tell us about the challenges SuperJosh has faced in 2020?
It’s hit us hard. We provide vital support to as many local families as we can. We know how much our services are needed, but like many charities the flow of funding has been dramatically reduced since the pandemic began. This has left us in a critical position.
As part of our ongoing work we support families through terrible loss. In September we supported families through the heartbreaking loss of four children, and sadly there have been two parental suicides. Our services are needed now more than ever. We know what a difference our service can make, as lives truly depend on us.
We rely heavily on fundraising and events – spring and summer being our busiest seasons. To have that taken away has been devastating for our charity. Over lockdown, to protect the charity members of our team were either furloughed or worked reduced hours. We’ve done everything we can to continue to support our families, while trying to cut back costs as much as possible. There has been a big squeeze on resources.
One of the most important services we provide is crisis counselling. We have a growing number of referrals – sometimes as many as three a week – and we want to be able to help as many families as possible. This is difficult when the charity itself is under strain.
How has SuperJosh worked to overcome the challenges?
We have had to dig deep to find ways of raising much needed funds for our SuperJosh families.
We have been truly amazed by the generosity of our amazing supporters. They have organised some wonderful socially distanced fundraisers on our behalf. Here are a few examples:
· Nathan Richardson is running to every Premier League football ground in the country. He’s now halfway through the challenge and has given up work to concentrate on the fundraiser full-time!
· Our friends at The Major Pub and FuseFit organised the socially distanced Run Round Rammy event this summer.
· FuseFit also undertook an ‘Everest Challenge’ for us earlier in the year. This involved a team of supporters running the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest to raise funds for SuperJosh and the incredible families we support. · The Bury Treasureline – a community lottery group in Bury – have encouraged support for our special families via the National Lottery. It goes to show you can support the SuperJosh charity from the comfort of your own home and also be in with a chance of winning the lottery funds, too!
There have been so many incredible supporters who have gone above and beyond to support our charity’s work. We are truly grateful to everyone involved.
How have you changed the support you give to individuals and families?
Our support has always been flexible and we will do whatever we can to meet a family’s needs. It could be financial support, help with mobility equipment or help to refurbish an area of their home that isn’t set up to meet their child’s needs.
More than ever, we are finding our crisis counselling services are in high demand. Those families who are going through the toughest of times – trauma over the loss or critical illness of a child – are having their situations compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and local lockdown restrictions.
We are happy that we can support families with our services and make a positive difference to their lives.
What impact has the support from SuperJosh had on the families it supports during these difficult times?
It’s been truly life-changing. We have received so much positive feedback; some of which we are able to share, but much of which we can’t.
Grief, loss and trauma are extremely private emotions and we respect the families who don’t want their experiences shared. Our work goes on behind the scenes, providing those in need with vital practical and emotional support.
Why is Brain Tumour Awareness Week especially important this year?
Now in its fourteenth year, this annual event is a celebration of awareness-raising activities that draw attention to the need for a special response and an increased research effort around brain tumours.
We must mark this special week as many brain tumour charities across the world like us are struggling to survive. We need to pull together as a community to raise awareness, push for greater funding and direct support for those suffering with a brain tumour.
The week also leads up to the anniversary of the loss of our wonderful boy, Josh, who passed away age 14 on 3rd November 2014, leaving the most remarkable legacy helping so many other children and young people.
How can local people and businesses help to support SuperJosh?
There are so many ways to support our charity. The possibilities are endless but here are a few ideas to get you thinking!
· In 2021, COVID permitting, take part in a group activity to raise funds for SuperJosh. For example, fun runs, skydives, coffee and cake mornings, or bingo/quiz nights via Zoom.
· Take part in the Bury Treasureline lottery as a syndicate from work.
· Use staff newsletters/intranets and noticeboards to share our news and donation links (all can be found on our website www.joshwilson.org.uk)
· Buy Christmas gifts for children in local hospitals.
We are focussed on increasing our capacity to provide crisis counselling services as well as purchasing three specialist wheelchairs. Any individuals or businesses who would like to sponsor these projects can get in touch to make a donation or tell us about a fundraising event they would like to undertake.
It's very difficult to plan at this time, but are there any events in the calendar you'd like people to know about?
This depends on the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions being lifted. We are hopeful we will still be able to undertake the Everest Challenge by 2022 – where a group of supporters will train and walk up to Mount Everest base camp in aid of SuperJosh.
We are also working on one of our biggest high-profile events – The Pride of Bury Awards. There is still a chance to nominate at www.prideofbury.co.uk. We also look forward to joining forces with others once again and taking part in The Pride events across Greater Manchester, Accessible Festival, Fetes and community events – hopefully all to come in 2021!
The Financial Options Group has held gala fundraising events on behalf of SuperJosh for the past two years. We are proud to have raised more than £49,000 across the events in support of the charity’s amazing work.
Although we have been unable to host similar fundraisers this year due to coronavirus restrictions, our Charitable Foundation is committed to supporting SuperJosh and other local charities through these difficult times.
To support SuperJosh in its mission to help the most vulnerable in our community, visit www.joshwilson.org.uk
To learn more about the Financial Options Group Charitable Foundation, visit www.financialopts.co.uk/fog-foundation