Sharing light during dark times: the fundraising heroes making a difference

Bonnie Evie Gifford
By Bonnie Evie Gifford,
updated on Apr 30, 2020

Sharing light during dark times: the fundraising heroes making a difference

We share some of the great deeds done, how you can still get involved, and where you can turn if you need a little support right now

We’re all in this together has been a sentiment much-shared over recent weeks. While we may not all be in the same boat, undergoing the same experiences, it’s hard to deny the fantastic way so many have rallied to offer whatever they can - be it time, money, or support. From brands making a difference for frontline workers to individuals giving their all, it’s amazing to see so many giving their all to support others.

Great deeds done well

Captain Tom Moore raises over £30m for the NHS

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday fundraiser. Originally getting out to raise £500,000 to support NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients, Captain Tom planned to walk 100 lengths of his 25m back garden during April before his 100th birthday.

Since his story captured the heart of the nation, over 1.4 million supporters have helped Captain Tom to smash his target, surpassing his goal by over 6000% to reach £30.1 million by the morning of his 100th birthday. At the time of writing, donators can still contribute via his JustGiving page.

To thank Captain Tom for his fundraising efforts and inspirational work, hundreds of gifts have been pouring in over recent weeks. Today, it was announced that amongst those gifts included an Captain Tom being made an honorary colonel.

Further well-wishing messages from the prime minister, as well as birthing greetings from the Queen were received. Thousands from across the country sent in birthday cards, while a replacement Second World War Defence Medal was also presented to him ahead of VE Day celebrations.

The Big Night In raises over £70m for Children in Need and Comic Relief

Airing on BBC One on April 23, The Big Night In saw the joining of two beloved charities for the first time to raise funds to support projects and smaller charities helping vulnerable people of all ages across the UK. Celebrity presenters Davina McCall, Lenny Henry, and Matt Baker, along with a host of comedy specials and more helped to celebrate the acts of kindness, good humour, and spirit of hope that have kept our nation going through these unprecedented times.

Money raised during The Big Night In has since risen to an incredible £70.6m, which will be split between good causes through Comic Relief, Children in Need, and The National Emergencies Trust.

As of the time of writing, you can still donate to The Big Night In to help ensure vital community services remain open to help people, to support communities across the UK, and to help support the most vulnerable amongst us. Catch the highlights from the night on BBC iPlayer or BBC One.

Save the UK’s charities: take on the 2.6 challenge

The 2.6 challenge called for home heroes to do their bit to save our charities. With so many fundraising events having to be cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, many charities have been left struggling to maintain their services during these trying times.

Designed to be accessible for all ages and abilities, the idea behind the 2.6 challenge was for participants to do an activity based around the numbers 26 or 2.6 on (or after) sunday 26 April. From juggling for 26 minutes to walking 2.6 miles, undertaking 26 days of yoga to 26 days of 26 minute mindful drawing, participants put their all into thinking up creative ways to get involved and start raising money for charity.

Set to kickoff on Sunday 26, the original date The London Marathon was set to happen, the 2.6 challenge was created to help the thousands of charities the race’s 40,000 participants would have supported through the world’s biggest single day annual fundraising event. The London Marathon raised an astounding £66.4m for charities in 2019 alone, and was expected to help raise just as much for 2020. Due to the current pandemic, the British charity sector will lose an estimated £4 billion.

To mark the postponement of what would have been The London Marathon’s 40th race, the 2.6 challenge hopes to engage individuals to get creative, and give what they can to help support our charities.

There’s still time to get involved and raise money for just about any UK charity, or to make a donation now through the 2.6 challenge website.

You can still get involved

Feeling inspired? There’s still plenty of ways you can do your bit to help support charities across the UK.

Over 28,000 virtual volunteers adopt a grandparent - and you can too!

In March, CHD Living put out a call for virtual volunteers to adopt a grandparent. The Surrey based care home asked members of the public to volunteer their time online and befriend their elderly residents. Designed to help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation many elderly residents have been feeling during this difficult time, the care home hoped that regular video calls would help elderly residents feel a sense of friendship and relief.

Since, over 28,000 virtual volunteers have stepped up to adopt a grandparent and help the elderly to battle isolation during lockdown. With volunteers as young as one signing up to speak with elderly residents across the CHD’s 16 care homes across the county, many volunteers are reporting getting as much from their chats with their adoptive grandparents as they are giving.

It’s not too late to get involved. If you’d like to help bring a sense of comfort and connection to an elderly person who may not have family or may be unable to get visitors right now, you can sign up to be matched with a grandparent. Just fill out the short form on CHD Living, and someone should get back to you.

If you’re struggling with loneliness right now, it’s important to know that help is out there. Find out more about how to overcome loneliness, or visit Counselling Directory to discover what support is available.

Live Life Well Virtual Weekender

Who doesn’t love a wellbeing festival? In-person events may be out for now, but the Live Life Well Virtual Weekender is set to be the UK’s first ever virtual wellbeing festival. Set to take place from 8-10 May, industry experts, advocates, authors, and more will share life experiences and actionable ways you can look after yourself right now.

Helping the nation to have a good time from the safety (and comfort) of your own homes, the festival isn’t just looking to lift spirits - it’s also raising money for charity. With tickets priced at £10 per household for access to all three day’s events, money raised through ticket sales will be donated to the NHS Charities Covid-19 appeal. Frontline workers, key workers, students, and those on low incomes can also apply for a free ticket for their household.

From physical to mental health, parenting talks to sleep workshops, cook-alongs to morning moves and more, find out more about the three day event and consider treating yourself for charity.

If you need support

It wouldn’t be a push to say we’re all struggling right now. Whether you’re facing isolation alone, your career has taken an unexpected turn, or you’re finding it tough to adapt to the ‘new norm’, so much has changed - it’s no wonder you may need a little extra help and support.

The Help Hub is now available to provide emotional support to those who need it. A space to access professional therapists, The Help Hub connects over 600 volunteer therapists remotely with those who are struggling emotionally because of the uncertainty around the pandemic and current lockdown. Offering free 20 minute sessions, anyone who is experiencing loneliness, fear, distress, or anxiety due to Covid-19 can book a free session to speak with a qualified, experienced therapist by phone or video call.

To find out more or to book an appointment, visit The Help Hub. If you are an experienced, qualified counsellor, you can volunteer your time.

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