Charity Skydive for Severn Hospice - Zak Morris explains why this event is so important for him and his family
In mid 2019, Zak Morris’ niece Kate decided she wanted to do a charity Skydive for her 40th birthday in November 2020 to raise money for Severn Hospice. Read on to find out just how important this skydive has become.
I asked Zak how he became involved in this event: ‘I along with 6 others decided to join Kate and support her. However, in January 2019 my wife Nicola was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and in January 2020 my wife and myself were told the devastating news that the cancer had reoccurred, and her condition was no longer treatable. From this point, Severn Hospice were able to provide end of life care and support at home as per Nicola’s wish. Therefore the Severn Hospice charity is now even more important to me and Nicola’s family, and the skydiving charity event and money raised became so much more important, to give back and try and help others finding themselves in the unimaginable situation that Nicola and myself were in.’
Zak and his niece Kate, along with 6 others, are taking part in Severn Hospice’s 2020 October 10,000 ft Freefall Tandem Skydive - a scary but exhilarating experience! Several fundraising teams are taking part in this event to raise money for a vital service. Severn Hospice have given free care and support to over 34,000 people in Shropshire since it was first established in 1989. Despite being part of the health care sector, Severn Hospice is not funded by the NHS and relies on donations to keep going. Events such as this skydive are therefore incredibly important for the Hospice, and Zak’s team have done a fantastic job so far: ‘There are eight people taking part and the original target was £400 per person = £3200. As a team we have raised £6500 to date.’ This is a huge figure and with the skydive taking place THIS Saturday 3rd October, it’s the final push to raise as much money as possible.
If you would like to support Zak, Kate and the rest of the team, please click the button below to donate:
Good luck to everyone taking part in the skydive this weekend, thank you for fundraising for such an imperative part of our community in Shropshire.
For more information on Severn Hospice and the fantastic support they offer, please visit their website: https://www.severnhospice.org.uk/
Cancer. We're Done. The charity campaign created in the face of loss - Imogen's Story
In 2018, Imogen Beecroft lost her mother to cancer, only 32 days after she first felt unwell. This heartbreaking story marks the beginning of Imogen’s fundraising story. Read on to find out more.
Imogen told me about her mother falling ill: ‘On 21st April my dad rang me to say that mum wasn’t feeling well, her kidney wasn’t working properly, so she had it removed on 1st May. On 14th May I went to see her recovering in bed at home. Trying to make her laugh, as I left I said, ‘Big plans this week?’. ‘Oh yes, big plans.’ She laughed. Her plan that week, as it turned out, was to find out that her ‘dodgy kidney’ was actually cancer. By the time we found it, it had spread all over her body. She died on 23rd May, just 32 days after she first fell ill.’
This story is sadly not just an isolated case; many people across the world are going through similar events right now. In 2019, Imogen decided she wanted to do something about it, and so the charitable campaign, ‘Cancer. We’re Done.’ began. Cancer. We’re Done. aims to help create better treatment options for cancer patients whilst also fundraising for two charities which support cancer patients and their families. Any funds raised through the work of Cancer. We’re Done goes to charities ‘Shine’ and ‘CLIC Sargent’, whilst the rest is used to support immunotherapy research at the UCL Cancer Institute. Immunotherapy is a process of helping the body’s immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. With more research, there is a chance to create more long-lasting and powerful treatments that can be applied to almost all types of cancers.
Imogen’s latest fundraising campaign is an initiative called, Let’s Work. Cancer. We’re Done: ‘we’re running a raffle of paid work experience opportunities, with some of London’s most innovative start-ups. From technology to music, healthcare to finance and property to beer, we’ve got 30 businesses on board from all industries.’ This exciting opportunity is open to all students over 18, and 100% of the money raised from the raffle goes directly to cancer research and the Cancer. We’re Done. supporting charities.
The closing date for the raffle is 30th September, so if you are interested, get your tickets before it’s too late! To see information on all the businesses taking part and to buy your tickets, please click the button below to be directed to the Cancer. We’re Done. website.
For more information on Imogen’s work, please visit the website or the Cancer. We’re Done social media pages by clicking the buttons below. Thank you Imogen for sharing your story with us, you are an inspiration.
Theatre to raise awareness for important issues, even when the industry's lights are out
A creative team of theatre graduates have created a musical arrangement of ‘Built for Longing’ from the musical, Murder Ballad. The online performance is to raise awareness of how domestic abuse charities are more vital than ever during the coronavirus pandemic and to raise money for domestic abuse charity, Refuge. Read on to watch their performance and to find out more.
In 1971, Refuge opened the first ever safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in Chiswick, West London. At the time, domestic abuse was considered a private matter and there was no conversation or action in society to prevent it from happening. The opening of this safe house signalled the first time society was recognising that it was wrong to be beaten by your partner. Women and children flocked to Refuge’s doors as a result. Since then Refuge has grown to become the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic and gender-based violence services, supporting over 6,000 women and children a day. Refuge provides a variety of services to help protect women and children from domestic abuse, including refuges across the country to provide temporary accommodation to those fleeing abuse, outreach workers to support women in their homes or at a safe place in their community, and a national helpline which is open 24/7. As a result of Refuge’s work, 76% of people who are supported by Refuge see an end to all physical abuse, whilst 96% feel safer at the point of leaving Refuge’s services.
Despite all of the fantastic work Refuge does to help women and children, the UK lockdown has seen a huge increase in demand for their services. Theatre and Movement Director Daniel Blake noticed this and wanted to use his skillset to help in some way: ‘I was concerned by the increase in calls and website visits that Refuge have seen since the start of lockdown (increase of 77% in calls and 950% boost in website visits). Lockdown has been incredibly difficult for many; it’s even harder when you don’t feel safe in the place you call home. I approached the incredibly talented Musical Director Steph Mangioglu back in April to create an all-female version of ‘Built for Longing’. This absolutely stunning arrangement by Steph is designed to amplify the message that you are not alone and support is always available. For me, this project was to listen, understand and amplify women’s voices. From an all-female creative team and cast, I was able to ask the questions necessary to start to understand the power imbalance between men and women. Through the creative lens of Steph, Mollie-Anna, Hannah and Elisabeth the piece depicts the vulnerability and isolation caused by domestic violence, while using the female voice as a beacon of hope that they are not alone and that help is always available.’
The song is beautifully sung by the wonderful talents of Hannah Abdool, Elisabeth Ellingsen and Mollie-Anna Riley. Daniel told me about the challenges of the rehearsal process: ‘The constraints of lockdown meant that we were unable to rehearse or perform in person. However, it remained important for me to create an environment in which everyone felt safe and protected. It was all a learning curve and I think we adapted well to the process and worked collaboratively over Zoom!’
Daniel is also running a variety of different projects to explore toxic masculinity and the implications of gender stereotypes on society. His latest project is a movement project called ‘Redefine’, taking the physical sport of Rugby and combining it with a self-discovery in art, focusing on the themes of toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes and mental health. Daniel explained his thoughts: ‘As a theatre director, I’m interested in exploring toxic masculinity and how our social construction of masculinity is not only harmful to men but to society in general. Understanding the connection between toxic masculinity and domestic violence was important to start challenging these power dynamics.’
Due to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the team decided not to ask for donations following the video, instead using it as a platform to raise awareness of Refuge’s work. They hope that the video will encourage anyone suffering from domestic abuse to come forward and seek help.
You can watch the video by clicking on the button below:
‘Built for Longing’ from the musical Murder Ballad
Music and Lyrics by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash
Directed by Daniel Blake
Arrangement and Musical Direction by Stephanie Mangioglu
Cast - Elisabeth Ellingsen, Mollie-Anna Riley and Hannah Abdool
To find out more about Refuge’s work or to make a donation if you would like to, please visit their website: https://www.refuge.org.uk/
If you need support you can call the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Pretty Good News presents... Spotlight On! The business directory offering free advertising for small businesses
Earlier this month, Pretty Good News launched a new segment of our website called 'Spotlight On' which is all about promoting small businesses for free to help give them an economic boost. Read on to find out how you can get involved!
Setting up a business is a huge challenge, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has made survival for small businesses even harder. Hundreds of companies have had to lay off staff, close some of their branches or even close their business completely. With the full economic impact of the pandemic still unclear, many businesses are having to make heart-wrenching decisions about their futures. To try and help raise the profile of small businesses, Pretty Good News has set up 'Spotlight On'.
Spotlight On is a business directory offering free promotion to all small businesses. From arts and crafts to food and drink, Spotlight On will showcase the work of businesses from all over the UK. Promotion for businesses includes a short write-up, photos showcasing the business, links to social media and website pages and promotion on social media.
In less than 100 days, millions of gifts will be exchanged for the Christmas holidays and businesses are already preparing for the busiest season of the year. Would you like to support small businesses this Christmas? Visit our Spotlight On section to browse the range of products and services provided by the small businesses we support.
If you own a small business and would like free promotion on our Spotlight On page, please get in contact with us by clicking on the button below, or you can email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to browse our business directory to find new small businesses to support, please click the button below. Please share with friends and family to help Pretty Good News to support as many small businesses as possible! You can also do your bit by shopping small, or shopping local this Christmas.
Running 50 miles in September to raise money for The Children's Society
Lori Murchie is running 50 miles in September to raise money for The Children’s Society. Read on to find out how much she has raised so far!
Social media can often cause distraction, procrastination and also is a source of many negative feelings for a lot of people. For Lori Murchie, however, seeing an advert on social media about fundraising for The Children’s Society inspired her to take action. She explained: ‘I was scrolling one day and an ad for the challenge just appeared! I was going to let it go but then out of curiosity I calculated how many miles I would need to run (1.2 miles every other day) and that made it seem much more achievable.’
The Children’s Society began back in 1881 with Edward Rudolf, who disliked children having to go into workhouses. Rudolf envisioned giving homeless children a secure family environment to grow up in, so he set up some facilities for children to live in with a master and matron who acted as parents. From these early beginnings, The Children’s Society has developed into a huge charitable organisation which supports children all over Britain. The charity works to prevent child sexual exploitation, ending child poverty, supporting young carers and children’s mental health and much more. In the last year alone, The Children’s Society worked with over 9,500 young people. 82% of these young people said their lives had improved after working with The Children’s Society.
Lori explained why she wanted to raise money for The Children’s Society: ‘It feels like an appropriate charity to be supporting during these strange times we have been having. They do a lot of work towards the wellbeing of young people, especially in terms of mental health. This is something that I think a lot more people than usual are probably experiencing issues with, particularly due to coronavirus. Also, I thought it’d be a nice idea to help people around my age group, as it’s a pretty relatable cause.’
Running 50 miles in one month is a big challenge, but it is something Lori is very excited to complete: ‘Excited is an understatement! I am also quite nervous but I’m going to do my best, I have been running for quite a while in preparation and am hoping to expand my long-distance record by the end of the challenge.’ Physical challenges such as this one are very rewarding - not only are you raising money for a well-deserving charity, you are accomplishing something as an individual through improving your fitness or reaching a goal. If you are considering taking on a challenge like this, go for it!
Lori originally hoped to raise £150 but achieved this within the first few days of fundraising due to some very kind donations. She has now set her target to £200 and is so close to her goal! If you can help Lori, please click the ‘donate’ button below to be directed to her fundraising page.
For more information on The Children’s Society, please visit https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/.
Well done Lori for taking on this challenge and the best of luck! This is a fantastic example of how social media can be used to inspire, motivate and promote positive messages. Let’s hope we can see even more positivity like this on our news feeds in the future!
Celebrating 70 years of marriage - the wonderful story of John and Jean Cook
This post is written in memory of John Cook (1925-2020).
Celebrating a wedding anniversary is a joyous occasion for couples. Whether it’s remembering their wonderful wedding, or just having a romantic day together, wedding anniversaries are special occasions. For John and Jean Cook, this year might have been the most exciting wedding anniversary yet. At the end of July, John and Jean celebrated their Platinum wedding anniversary for 70 years of marriage, a huge milestone. Their daughter, Penny Lee, told me about how they met: ‘My Mom’s brother Fred had a friend John who used to come to dinner once a week and one day he met Mom. They all went out to a dance and although my father had a girlfriend at the time he fell for my Mom straight away and said his goodbyes to his girlfriend. They have been together 71 years and married 70 years.’ This massive milestone called for a big celebration and despite coronavirus restrictions still being in place, Penny managed to organise for the couple to renew their vows.
John was living in Worfield care home Bradeney House when the UK lockdown began, whilst Jean was living in Shawbirch, near her daughter Penny. Visiting was restricted and unfortunately John contracted Covid-19 on his 95th birthday in April. Luckily he recovered in time to celebrate his anniversary with Jean and the care home helped Penny make it a day to remember: ‘They were so helpful when I was trying to organise the celebration and they decorated the marquee, made the cake and got Dad all ready.’ Due to Covid restrictions, only a limited number of guests were allowed to attend this special day but this didn’t stop the couple from renewing their vows and celebrating with family and friends.
A few weeks ago, John Cook sadly passed away aged 95. This post is dedicated to him and the wonderful relationship he had with his wife, Jean. All our love goes to the family at this difficult time.
Make Communication Clear - campaigning to improve communication for the deaf community during the Covid-19 pandemic
Established in 2013, Signal is a Shrewsbury based UK charity, working to support and empower people in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa who experience hearing loss and tinnitus. The Covid-19 pandemic has made communication extremely difficult, so Signal have set up ‘Make Communication Clear’, a campaign to encourage good communication methods.
Signal aims to create a deaf-friendly world, with deaf people having the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The Covid-19 pandemic has massively affected the deaf community, as Project Coordinator Sarah Thomas explained: ‘British Sign Language users were affected massively by the lockdown. Many were unable to communicate in order to get the basic needs of food and medicine, and Signal helped to ensure these individuals got what they needed. We recognise that the wearing of opaque face coverings can cause a great deal of stress and communication issues for members of the Deaf community, people with hearing loss and lip readers.’ Communication is something we often take for granted, and the current situation has made communication near impossible for those who lip read. Within the Make Communication Clear campaign, Signal are encouraging people to purchase transparent face coverings so that your lips can be read. Face coverings also muffle sound, but Signal are advising people to speak normally and clearly rather than shouting.
Whilst Signal recognise face coverings are a mandatory part of society to prevent the spread of Covid-19, they are also campaigning to change policies to provide more inclusivity to the Deaf community: ‘There has been a lack of inclusivity and accessibility regarding the information, guidelines and response from governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. People with hearing loss and the Deaf community have not been adequately considered during policy decision making. We therefore want to encourage key policy makers, organisations and leaders to include these communities in their future responses.’
During the UK lockdown, Signal were working hard to support people who may have been feeling even more isolated than before. They organised FaceTime calls and texts for BSL users as well as offering online support through Zoom to those with Tinnitus. Through their partners in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, they have also managed to continue with some projects to improve the lives of the Deaf community in Africa. They have successfully distributed over 2,000 transparent face masks to students and teachers in Zambia, which has massively helped communication in schools. Signal are aiming to provide 10,000 clear masks as part of Make Communication Clear which will have a positive impact by including all people in communication.
Before the lockdown, Signal also provided British Sign Language courses, Deaf Awareness Education, support for Hard of Hearing groups and Tinnitus support groups as well as BSL Lunches, speaker sessions and a hearing loop research project. They are hoping to continue all of this once it is safe to do so, but until then Signal are campaigning hard to Make Communication Clear.
If you would like to get involved in the Make Communication Clear campaign, here are some of the things you can do!
Follow Signal on Social Media:
Donate to Signal by clicking the button below:
Together, we can make a difference - The Telford Unity Project
Discrimination is still prevalent in today’s society and the murder of George Floyd brought this reality to the attention of the world media, sparking protests across the globe. The Telford Unity Project was established to help celebrate our differences as one strong community, through spreading a positive message across social media. Read on to find out more.
Whilst the Telford Unity Project was set up as a direct response to George Floyd’s death, the group aim to tackle discrimination in all areas. Their main focus is on protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010, such as gender, disability, race and religion. The Telford Unity Project plan to tackle discrimination in these areas and celebrate diversity throughout the Telford and Wrekin area by implementing a range of schemes and projects. I asked Clare Nock, one of the project’s founders, how The Telford Unity Project came about: ‘I am quite passionate about equality. George Floyd’s death upset us all but as a woman of dual heritage it forced me to reflect on my own experiences with racism and prejudice. So I thought, ‘enough is enough’, no more staying quiet. Telford has a lot to offer with lots of diverse groups, so much culture and positivity, yet there appears to be a lack of cohesion and understanding in our community. I am not alone in these observations. A few of us really wanted to do something to tackle discrimination but also to celebrate our differences, as we believe that our differences make us stronger as a community. So, we sat down one night and started a group and asked friends to join and input ideas, and the Telford Unity Project was born.’
The founders of the Telford Unity Project have a clear strategy on how they are hoping to bring the community together. They are hoping to improve diversity training in the local area as well as improving relationships with the police, local authorities and the general community. Another key area they are focusing on is education, where they are hoping to eventually ensure there is full inclusion in local schools from day one. Whilst these are the group’s aims so far, they already have plenty of plans for the future: ‘We are hoping to grow the project to engage more people in the community with some exciting events such as a cultural food festival, tree planting and an art exhibition. We also hope to develop links with local schools to support them in diversifying the literature that children have access to as well as holding ‘diversity awareness days’. Furthermore, we want to communicate more with local councillors and MP’s to support with targeted outreach as well as raising awareness of local issues and setting up befriending projects. Our overall vision is to bring people together to encourage discussion and action on equality, diversity and discrimination to see a more united Telford community who respect and support each other.’
With the aim of bringing people together, the priority for the Telford Unity Project right now is spreading the word about the project to gain support. If you live in the Telford and Wrekin area and would like to help create a community that celebrates everyone’s differences by supporting each other, here are some things you can do to get involved!
- Like the Telford Unity Project on Facebook and invite your friends and family to like it too! The sooner more people know about the Telford Unity Project, the sooner change can be made through projects and events. The Telford Unity Project have a Facebook group that you can join too.
- Volunteer for the project - whether you can spare 10 minutes or 2 hours a week, any help you can give will be a huge step forward in getting things moving for the group.
- Join in with any competitions, events or activities on the Telford Unity Project page! All of these events are designed to raise awareness of the project so every time you engage with a post, you are helping the Telford Unity Project to gain popularity within the local community.
- If you have an idea for a project let the Telford Unity Project know or even implement it yourself through the group! Community is at the heart of the Telford Unity Project, so everything is community led. If you have an idea don’t hesitate to get involved!
- The Telford Unity Project is hoping to develop a strong working relationship with local authorities including councillors, MPs, schools and the police. If you can help kickstart this, please get in touch with the group by messaging them on Facebook.
Whilst we may never completely eradicate discrimination, the Telford Unity Project are working hard to do all they can to tackle it. To find out more information and to get involved, please click the button below to be taken to Telford Unity Project’s Facebook page:
Walking 80 miles for Heads Together - Emma's Story
Emma Marsh decided to complete a walking challenge in August to raise money for mental health charity Heads Together. Read on to find out how Emma has got on!
Heads Together is a mental health initiative set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, designed to tackle the stigma of mental health. Heads Together aim to fundraise to create new mental health services which will help to change the conversation on mental health. Their programmes include the Mentally Healthy Schools website, Mental Health at Work programme and ‘Shout’, a 24/7 crisis text line. Heads Together also support a number of important mental health charities and brings them together to help end the stigma surrounding mental health. Donations to Heads Together go towards investing in projects and helping partner charities meet the growing demand for mental health support.
Emma Marsh and a group of others all decided to raise money for Heads Together by doing a walking challenge. They all chose how many miles they thought they could reasonably accomplish during August. Emma walked 80 miles, a distance which equates to 3-4 miles a day! She explained how the challenge went: ‘I thought walking 80-100 miles in one month would be easy and I’m sure to some it would be, but it has definitely come with its difficulties. I work from home, sometimes 8 hours a day, so fitting 4 miles around that was a struggle. Some days I have walked 7 miles to catch up on those I had missed and there have been times I have been out shivering and soaking, but I just remembered the cause it was for. I have officially done 82.03 miles and that feeling of accomplishment and pride was incomparable.’
Mental health is something that everyone comes into contact with in their lives, whether it is through their own struggles or through supporting someone else. Emma explained why she wanted to raise money for Heads Together: ‘I have had support and help myself in the past and wouldn’t have been able to get through this pandemic with a healthy mind without it. The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone in a number of ways: financially, physically and especially mentally. I think now, more than ever, is the time to fundraise and help those who need it the most.’
Emma was hoping to raise £100 and has just reached this target by raising £103, a sum she should be very proud of! This fantastic fundraising effort has spurred Emma on further to do more work for charity, with a bake sale on the cards: ‘I would love to do another fundraising event in the future. I would highly recommend fundraising for any charity to anyone. It will fill you with warmth, pride and motivation. You can do something as simple as walking as I did, or go crazy and do a sky dive. I personally love baking and often spend my free time making tasty vegan treats, so I would highly consider maybe doing a bake sale or coffee morning or something of that sort next. Raising money and helping others is so important, especially after the year we've had!’
Well done Emma for this fantastic achievement and we can’t wait to see what you get up to next! If you would like to donate to Emma’s fundraiser, please click the ‘donate’ button below.