Iain McAndrew, Director of Communications and Fundraising, blogs about the launch of our Christmas fundraising appeal, which launched yesterday and features our first ever TV ad.
Yesterday, I was proud to see the launch of CHAS’s Christmas fundraising appeal. This year, the centre-piece is CHAS’s first-ever television appeal. In truth, since the appeals that ensured we could build and open Rachel House in 1996 and Robin House a decade later, it’s the most important appeal we’ve launched.
Like many charities, the pandemic has seen our income decrease significantly. Many of our traditional fundraising activities have been cancelled. Meanwhile, the need for our services is continuing to increase. Right now, there are over 16,700 families across Scotland living with the terrifying heartbreak that their child might die young. Throughout the pandemic, our hospices have remained open; providing care and support to families whose child is at end of life, whilst our CHAS at Home service has reached across Scotland to provide care and support in families homes. Our virtual children’s hospice service, launched within days of lockdown, has proved to be a lifeline to families having to shield. Central to our appeal is the involvement from the families who use CHAS services. I’ve heard directly from families that CHAS has helped them cope with the death of a child and these are stories that they are willing to let us share – and we are privileged to be able to do so - in order to convey the difference CHAS has made in helping them through the toughest time of their lives. Telling those stories carries a huge responsibility. We need to tell these stories with sensitivity and authenticity. It’s important we get this right and I want to recognise the support we have had from our clinical colleagues in how we develop and express those stories in our fundraising.
Creating this appeal has been a journey for us all at CHAS. Before our appeal launched, and in particular the TV advert aired, it was important to us that we shared the advert with families in advance and have our Family Support Team on hand to provide support.
Creating an advert that captures the pain and heartbreak of losing a child has been hard. The easy thing would have been to show the joy that a children’s hospice can bring. Yet for families across Scotland, this is the daily reality they cannot avoid and CHAS hospices are there to help ease their pain and loneliness over Christmas. It’s a highly emotive film to watch, in part because we don’t talk enough about child death. It has become taboo. By being able to draw on the real stories of families, this year our Christmas campaign doesn’t shy away from the reality faced by so many.
None of our work is possible without our supporters. Over the last eight months we have had to adapt; adapt how we provide our services to support families (and our staff and volunteers) safely and adapt how we fundraise. At CHAS, we are dedicated to ensuring that no-one is left facing the death of their child alone. To do this, we have to ensure our services continue throughout this Christmas and indeed beyond this year, and we knew we needed to do something different – even bold if we want to reach our ambition of reaching every family who needs us.
The launch of this appeal is the culmination of intense work over the last eight months by an incredible team that afford me the privilege to lead. Since March, every day they have gone above and beyond their roles (as has everyone across CHAS) with one purpose – maintain the vital support for children and their families.
Fundraisers by our very nature are creative and ingenuity runs in our DNA. We’ve found new ways to inspire our supporters and are truly grateful for every one of those supporters over the last eight months that have continued to show they care for and are committed to supporting children with life-shortening conditions. If you are reading this as a CHAS supporter – I thank you. You are truly amazing.
Yet, we have a challenge. Right now we aren’t able to reach everyone that needs us.
We recognise that this Christmas will be like no other we’ve experienced. And for the children and families we support, this makes caring for a child with a life-shortening condition even tougher than it already is. We’ve had fantastic support over the course of the summer and this Christmas, we are calling on everyone who can to stand together and care for Scotland’s most vulnerable children and help keep the joy alive even in the face of death.