The Lewis Foundation
Up and down the country, there are thousands of people doing good deeds every day, and we decided to celebrate the great work that charities undergo with a regular feature on Tuesdays, to tie-in with #CharityTuesday on Twitter. This week, we caught up with The Lewis Foundation to find out more...
Where are you based and what geographical areas do you support people in?
Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.
How do you support people?
We give free gift packs to adults receiving treatment for cancer in hospital. The aim is to cheer people up during treatment, give them something nice to look forward to and reduce loneliness by spending time with them. We now have a list of 27 different types of packs we can cover.
The gifts range from portable radios, Model Craft kits, books, puzzles, pamper packs and many more. The patient can pick from a list of packs free of charge, to either keep them occupied or a provide an essential item they may need.
We also provide gift packs for day patients receiving treatment at:
Oncology Ward at BMI Three Shires Hospital in Northampton.
Haemotology and Oncology at Northampton General Hospital.
Haemotology and Oncology at Milton Keynes University Hospital Trust.
St Crispin's Retirement Village in Northampton.
Every Friday night we visit Talbot Butler Ward in Northampton General Hospital. We hand out these packs with our volunteer team, Laura, Keith and Jo.
In addition, on request we provide home donations of our gift bags.
How did the charity come to be founded?
The Lewis Foundation was set up due to both of us spending a significant amount of time at the Talbot Butler Ward at Northampton General Hospital, when Lee's mum was receiving treatment for cancer. We noticed how sad and bored patients looked on the wards and in the private rooms when they were on their own without family and friends being present. A patient spends a lot of time alone. We talked about what we could do to make a patient have something to look forward to. This is so that they can take their mind off endless treatments and thinking about their cancer.
From our own personal experiences we know that for the patient and their family it is a difficult time - financially, emotionally and physically. This is why we wanted to assist in some way to relieve that.
The first project was paying for televisions so people did not have to pay £10 a day or £35 a week to watch TV.
During 2014 - 2015, Lorraine completed Tough Mudder and Rat Race - Dirty Weekend (20 miles, 200 obstacles). The money raised provided 11 TV and DVD players to go in the private rooms on Talbot Butler Ward in Northampton General Hospital.
Once this was achieved, we wanted to do something on a long term basis. This is when we came up with the free gift pack idea.
How many people do you have working at the charity?
There is Lorraine Lewis, Lee Lewis, Keith Hall, Jo Kerslake, Laura Graham and Kellie Leonard. We all work and get involved in the charity around our jobs.
How can people support you?
They can donate financially via our Just Giving page on our website: www.thelewisfoundation.co.uk.
They can buy an item from our Amazon Wishlist - https://www.thelewisfoundation.co.uk/amazonwishlist.
We can send people a wish list if they want to donate an item either individually or as a business/school by contacting: email@example.com.
If they live in the Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes area collection can be arranged.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Hardest challenge at first was to raise the money for the packs. We started off in May 2016 with the first donation going into our bank of £30. From then, it was thinking how were we going to fund these packs. However, by being creative and persistent we were able to get our name out there, so that people could know who we are and want to support us. So, for the first year it was tough. We were raising enough money each month to just cover a monthly surprise. However, in the last 6 months with people seeing what we are doing and the impact we are making that financial stress has gone. All our gift packs come purely from fundraising and not funding. So, we work hard as a team to make sure we get in as much money as possible. In May 2016, we did 80 packs a month and now we are reaching the 500 a month mark. This could not have been achieved without the kindness of donations from members of the public.
Do you have any charity events coming up and where can people find out about these events?
Sunday 3rd December - Quirky Races Mince Pie 5KM, Billing Aquadrome in Northampton. Every 1km you get to eat a mince pie. Finisher medal at the end!
Sunday 10th December - Free yoga session with Yoga With Emma for adults with cancer/post treatment. This is at the Elgar Centre in Upton, Northampton from 11.30am - 1.45pm.
Keep an eye on our event page as we have lots of exciting things coming up in 2018!
Is there any advice you could give to other charities?
You have to be passionate, believe in what you are doing and want to help others. Running a charity is not about recognition or status, it is about the individuals who are going to benefit from it.
You can find out more about The Lewis Foundation at their website or via Facebook, Instagram, JustGiving, Twitter or YouTube.