Carlisle United and Jigsaw followed up last week’s launch of the ‘Make A Dream Come True’ project with an informal meeting in the Legends Lounge ahead of the Tranmere Rovers home game where local businesses and interested individuals came along to meet David Holdsworth – the project lead – to find out more about how they could help.
The club and Jigsaw, Cumbria’s only Children’s Hospice, are looking to ‘Make A Dream Come True’ this winter by sending a child and their family all the way to Lapland to meet Santa and his elves as they gear themselves up for the big day with presents to wrap and sleighs to pack.
Also in attendance at the meeting last Saturday was John Priddle, chair of Trustees for Jigsaw and Eden Valley Hospice, who was there to say thank you on behalf of the staff and children at Jigsaw for what is an idea which we hope is set to capture the imagination of the Cumbrian community.
“It’s a terrific idea and we can’t thank everyone enough,” he said. “These children come to Jigsaw with life-limiting conditions, but you would never know that because they’re all so upbeat and positive.
“That’s the way we do things at the Hospice and at Jigsaw. We facilitate people to make the most of the life they have, and this is a wonderful opportunity for one of our young ones and their families to have the experience of a lifetime.
“We have to remember, the children who have these conditions tend to have brothers and sisters and those siblings can feel, at times, that they don’t get much attention. It’s going to be fantastic to send them away with their family members so they can all do this wonderful thing together – I just wish I was going with them!
“It’s the first time Jigsaw has been involved in something like this for as long as I can remember, and we’re always looking for new ideas. Anything that helps the families, the children, or raises money, we encourage people to do it.
“I think it’s an idea that will catch on and pick up its own momentum once people understand why we’re doing it, because it will be an immensely fulfilling thing for everybody involved if we can send a sick child and their loved ones to see Santa in Lapland.”
Speaking more about the work done by Jigsaw, he explained: “A lot of what we do at Jigsaw is centred around giving the parents a break. There are a lot of tragic stories linked with any hospice, and that’s particularly the case when children are involved.
“Listening to those stories can be really hard to take, but we get to see the people we’re helping, and we see first hand the positive impact the assistance and care we give has on everybody connected with the families concerned.
“That’s why there was an excellent reaction from all of the Jigsaw staff to the news that David Holdsworth, Carlisle United and United for Business were launching this project. We get unbelievable support from the community all year round and this is another example of that.
“With Carlisle United, the two organisations complement each other and we’ve become close friends and partners recently. You should the faces of the children light up whenever the players walk through the door, it’s terrific.
“We really appreciate what the players and staff do for us and they’re always very welcome. I know the club is looking to strengthen community bonds anyway, so to give at least one child an opportunity like this is a great way of reaching out and raising awareness with the communities we work within in a really positive way.”
The meeting was also a great opportunity to learn just how much it takes to run a facility as important as Jigsaw.
“We have an initiative at Jigsaw called ‘Pay for a Day’ which has become really popular with local businesses and fundraisers,” he told us. “It’s a scheme where we encourage businesses to raise £2,126.46 - which is the equivalent of one day of care – because we know already that we have to raise three-quarters of that every single day of every year, just to meet the needs of the people we care for.
“We rely on the help of the community so much because central funding doesn’t come anywhere near meeting the running costs. When I wake up on New Year’s Day every year I have a mild panic, because that’s when it hits me that we have to raise at least another £3 million for the next 12 months.
“Less than 25% of that comes from government, so we really do rely on donations and goodwill, from businesses and individuals, because we need every penny we can get.
“The nearest children’s hospices to us are either Blackpool, Chorley, Loch Lomond or Newcastle, so we can’t overstate how important this facility is to Cumbria. All we can ask is that people keep donating and supporting us because, as I say, we really do need your help.”
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