Andy Jackson
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Marching on

Andy Jackson
Posted by
31 Mar 2014

From balloon walks and training days to cheque collections and raising awareness and comic con - it's been another busy month! Read on to find out more about what you've all been up to in March.

Spring is finally here and you've all been as busy as ever in your efforts to raise awareness, funds and support for blood cancer patients. Highlights for me this month are Rich Castle's brilliant Facebook Live session, our first ever training sessions and the amazing support you've been providing each other and others on our social media channels and beyond.

However that only scratches the surface. Here's what you've all been up to this month:

1. Ambassador training days

18 of you attended one of our two training days at the beginning of the month as we look to ensure that you're equipped with all the skills and support that you need to feel confident in your work as Ambassadors.

For a first attempt I think the sessions went really well and we got some really great feedback which we're currently working through and will be looking to action for future training days, which we're looking to be able to offer regionally in the coming months.

In the meantime we're in the process of putting together the video of the second training day which we will look to share with you all along with the slides and accompanying notes from the day. This is taking a little longer than we originally hoped but will be with you soon.

The sessions also generated some really fantastic ideas on things that we can do together for Blood Cancer Awareness Month including Erica Farmer's inspired idea of 'Steptember' and the concept of a Bloodwise roadshow where we hold drop in sessions for the general public in various locations around the UK. These are all only ideas at the moment but there will be plenty more on this going forwards so watch this space! 

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in one of the training sessions and helped make them a success. It made me realise just how lucky we are to have you all as part of the team and I'm really excited about what we can achieve together going forwards!

2. Rich Castle's Facebook Live

On Friday March 17th Rich Castle joined us for our latest Facebook Live to talk about his experiences with acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Rich was absolutely fantastic in the interview which reached more than 20,000 and generated some brilliant questions and engagement.

A huge thank you to Rich for helping out and to Gill Murphy and everyone else that took the time to send in a question for me to ask ahead of the Q&A.

We're still looking for a willing volunteer for next month. If you're interested do drop me an email at ajackson@bloodwise.org.uk and I'll look to arrange a time and date that works best for you.

If you missed Rich's Facebook Live interview you can watch it again here

3. More press coverage

Lisa Griffiths had a lovely surprise at the beginning of the month when she went in to her local WH Smith's to see her son Hugo on the front of her local newspaper, alongside a great article about Hugo's experiences with leukaemia and Lisa's amazing fundraising efforts with Team Hugo, which includes a virtual run later this year. Find out more details on Lisa's JustGiving page.

There was also a really lovely piece on Emma Harrison and her son Ollie in her local paper following on from February's Afternoon Tea Party with the Girls which is well worth a read: http://www.ryeandbattleobserver.co.uk/news/in-this-week-s-rye-and-battle-observers-march-3-1-7848779

Last and by no means least there was a great article on Mark Noblet in the Cycling Times which has a big circulation and will really help us reach out to the cycling community, who we're building a growing relationship with through our partnership of this year's Ride London.

If you're interested in getting involved in more press and case study work but have yet to be featured, don't panic! We've started sending out an updated version of the press form which will help us identify potential opportunities where we could look to use your story (with your permission of course).

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch with the press team at press@bloodwise.org.uk

4. The Girls Collections

The Girls show continues to go from strength to strength and means that we've remained hugely busy with bucket collections and merchandise sales which have already raised more than £35,000.

This wouldn't have been possible without your support and I'd like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you that helped out yet again last month, like Jane Leahy and Paul Carless who always seems to be helping out on night's where the cast are also collecting!

As of Monday the theatre staff have very kindly agreed to take on the running of the merchandise stall however we're still always on the look out for willing bucket collectors.

If you haven't already expressed an interest in helping out and would like to get involved then please do get in touch with Keri Wyatt who is taking on the rota after Dannii's departure for pastures new. Keri's email is kwyatt@bloodwise.org.uk

5. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer Inquiry

As a number of you will already have seen from the Bloodwise Facebook page and/or the Ambassador Facebook group the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer launched its first inquiry into blood cancer care in the NHS on 15th March. The inquiry will look at all aspects of blood cancer, including awareness, diagnosis, patient experience, commissioning of services and clinical research.

The inquiry welcomes views from anyone with a connection to blood cancer including patients and carers, and as usual you rose to the challenge with a number of you taking the time to get involved and find out more.

Special thanks to David Corrin and others who filled in the survey, which I know was time consuming but will really help the group collect together evidence as it looks to identify the areas that need to be addressed going forwards.

This is all hugely exciting as the blood cancer and patient voice is growing and Westminster is beginning to stand up and take notice.

For more information on how to get involved do check out Mil's brilliant blog.

6. Sharing experiences

March was another brilliant month for your blogs about your blood cancer experiences. Anna Mamwell, Louise Smith, Chris Andrews and Louise Macelod all wrote blogs this month with three of them also going on to be shared on our Facebook page.

The power of your blogs really cannot be underestimated as they provide real support and encouragement to others. They also enable us to start conversations with others affected by blood cancer and help ensure that they reach the information and support that they need.

At the same time they inspire others to want to write blogs of their own like Claire Richardson who wrote a really inspiring blog about her experiences with Hodgkin lymphoma which is well worth a read: https://bloodwise.org.uk/blog/my-experience-hodgkins-lymphoma-1

Claire was overwhelmed by the level of support and comments she received. You played a pivotal role in encouraging these comments from others in being among the first to respond to Claire both on her blog and on the Facebook post itself. This is something that we'd love for you to do even more of going forwards as it really does make a huge difference. So much so in the case of Claire that she'd like to get more involved with us and become an Ambassador!

What's also been fantastic this month is the way that you've helped support each other in the Ambassador Facebook group. This is exactly what the group is there for along, of course, with you sharing your achievements and ideas for Ambassador activities going forwards.

The support has also extended well beyond the Ambassador Facebook group and commenting on our Facebook posts, with Dan Holloway steering others towards the support and information that we offer in the NHL Facebook group that he's a member of:

This is something that we want to do a lot more of going forwards as it will help us reach out to blood cancer patients and their families that might not have otherwise been aware of the support or information that we offer. Thank you Dan!

7. Fundraising update

12 of you have now added JustGiving pages to the Ambassador team fundraising page and have already helped us raise more than £13,000 towards our £250,000 target for the year.

Huge thanks to Sylvia Priest and Joanna Burridge who attended their first ever cheque presentations on our behalf last month.

Shout outs, too, to Newton McGrath and Tania Dineen-Parish for raising almost £1,000 between them from various fundraising efforts and to Lisa Griffiths who helped us get chosen as the charity partner for the annual National Poultry Awards in September through her husband's membership of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. The Awards could raise anywhere in the region of £10-15,000 which is absolutely fantastic.

Reaching out to corporate partners is something that we want to do a lot more of going forwards. If you have any connections that you think might be worth us pursuing (or you pursuing on our behalf) please don't hesitate to get in touch with our Partnerships & Philanthropy point of contact, Steph. Her email is scullen@bloodwise.org.uk.

Other news

As usual you've been doing a brilliant job raising awareness and sharing our materials in your local communities. This, of course, is an on-going process and the more that we get our information out there, the more people will be aware of blood cancer, the charity and the support and information that we offer.

A number of you including Sylvia Priest were handing out information at your Haematology outpatient clinics while Susie Gander was busy spreading the word in a more unusual setting at the Leamington Spa comic con event:

Special mentions must also go to Louise Macleod who earlier this month was given the brilliant news that she is 'all clear' and to Katie Ruane and Donna Dunn. Katie successfully helped launch Cancer on Board as an official charity while Donna shared the fantastic news that 4,500 people had signed up to the bone marrow register as a result of her daughter Emily's incredible campaigning which Donna has continued since Emily sadly passed away.

Last and by no means least, good luck to Sissy Bridge and Luke Ponsonby who by the time of the next newsletter will have run the London Marathon. There'll be an update on how they got on next month but if you'd like to come and cheer them on on the day do get in touch with our sports team at sports@bloodwise.org.uk.