We can all appreciate how difficult these last 4-5 weeks have been during lockdown, and how the community have come together is nothing but admirable. It is amazing how Captain Tom has raised over £29 million for NHS staff, volunteers and patients that have been affected by Covid -19. Alongside this we also have the Virgin Run for heroes’ challenge that has raised just over £5 million for NHS charities together. Recently we have also had the 2.6 challenge in aid of the London marathon that was supposed to take place on Sunday 26 April. The general public can take on this challenge and raise money for any charity they wish to paper over the £66.4 million loss from the absence of the marathon.
This fills Al’s Pals with some hope. We are such a small charity in a big pool of charities in England and Wales (185,000 to be exact) and our start just happened to coincide with the COVID -19 outbreak just one week after we launched, the country went into lockdown.
It hasn’t been easy trying to support cancer patients during these worrying times, but that is what we are there to do and it is down to our volunteers to do this as much as we physically can, making sure that we are following government advice. This includes exceptions to the ‘stay at home’ instruction for people providing care to others and needing to travel. In other words, people can go out to volunteer if they are providing help to vulnerable people or if their volunteering cannot be done from home. We are still affected by this though, with four volunteers in isolation, one going through the application process, so we have only two active volunteers in the hospital along with Suzanne Brown. It’s great to see volunteers recognised as playing key roles in health and social care in the recent government announcement.
Our service within the hospital is restricted, and we have been unable to provide the full one – to one support that we set out to achieve. It is vital that we remain positive and any support we can offer is better than nothing. We are there not only to support the patients who are unable to have a visitor sit with them while they are having chemotherapy treatment but also to support the doctors and nurses, who as we all know are under a lot of pressure currently, if our volunteers offering a few hours a day helps, then it is worth doing. We provide teas and coffees, and chat to patients as much as we can while abiding by the social distancing rules that are in place in the Cancer Centre. We have been provided with PPE and we ensure that we wear this where appropriate.
Our volunteers can and do make a difference, and we hope that we can continue to do so. We were fortunate enough to win a community grant from the MK Community Foundation in light of how our charity has been affected by Covid -19, and we want to ensure that money is put to good use…so watch this space. Don’t forget about our service, our volunteers and all of the other wonderful volunteers who continue to provide support. We know that so many charities are facing a real funding crunch, and the government’s funding won’t reach everyone who needs it. That’s why charities are never more needed, and we can all make a difference in how we can support local charities by donating, raising money or volunteering. Al’s Pals is one of those charities that needs support in all of those ways, so for more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.