Sunday, 31 July 2016

Family Fun Day

Today we held our 3rd Family Fun Day for the charity. 

This year we teamed up with our friend Mark, who raises funds for Parkinsons UK. 

Along with our usual stalls we decided that this year we would have a car boot sale as well. 
We were very fortunate to be able to use the grounds at Leeds Corinthians RUFC, which meant that we had the use of a very large field.

We had many varied stall holders turn up selling their goods and donating to the charities by paying for their ground pitch.

We had lots of support from other groups who came along and gave their time for free. We can never say thank you enough to all of these people.

During the day we ran a few stalls ourselves. One of our regular money taking stalls is the Tombola stall and it didn't let us down again today.
I always enjoy having a go on the tombola stall when I go to fayre's so we know it is always a good people puller.

Our other tried and tested was the inflatable slide and bouncy castle. 
We had a few issues with the electricity throughout the day and in the end had to settle with just using the slide. 
We were still able to raise a great amount of funds from it and there were many happy little faces coming off the slide. 

Once again Charlies cousins came along to help at the event and they decided this time to have their own stall to get rid of some of their old toys. 
They also helped with other things throughout the day and even helped with the litter picking at the end. 
They make us feel very proud of them and we know Charlie would be very proud of them as well.

The total amount raised during the day was £428 which means an amazing amount of £214 for each charity.

We cant say thank you enough to everyone who came along and supported both of the charities and made the day a great success.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Throughout the last 3 years we have been very lucky to be supported by many local businesses. 

Some have helped by donating a product or a service eg. free loan of a motor home for our charity sponsored walkers on their coast to coast.

Other companies have helped us by allowing us to fund raise on their premises.

One of those companies is Asda.

Asda has helped us at a couple of their local stores. 

We have been allowed to have 2 bucket shaking days at Asda Living at Crown Point shopping centre in Leeds. Both of the days were very successful and helped us raise much needed funds.

We have also been lucky enough to be one the Green Token Scheme charities that have gone up against other local charities and good causes. 
We won the green token scheme at both Asda Middleton & Asda Living and received cheques from both.

The Green Token Scheme has recently been revamped and we have again been put forward as a good cause charity for Asda Middleton store. 
When we last went to the shop we definitely had the most tokens in our pot so we think we may be in with a good chance of winning again.

Yesterday we had our most recent event at Asda Middleton. 
We held a Bag Packing Day, where 9 of our charity supporters went along to pack shoppers bags for a donation.
The shoppers at Asda Middleton were wonderful and gave us lots of support. 
Some shoppers even gave us a donation but didn't want us to pack for them. 
The generosity of people still amazes us.

Two of Charlies cousins, Rhiann(10) and Amy(8), also came along to give their support.
They were amazing throughout the event and contributed greatly to the day.

Rhiann stayed for the whole 5 hours that we were there and packed many shoppers bags. 
There were even shoppers who asked for her to pack their bags. 
I think the fact that she is very cute with a beautiful smile helped her to get lots of people to get behind her and donate lots of money.

Once we had finished the event we got all 3 of Charlies cousins to help us count all the money donated. They loved every minute of it and couldn't believe how much money people had given.

Our grand total for the day was £327.45.

We would like to say a huge thank you to all the shoppers at Asda Middleton for supporting us and being so generous with their donations.

We would also like to say another massive Thank You to all the staff at Asda for allowing us to continue to fund raise within their store. Your help and support means so much to us and the bereaved families who will benefit from the money raised.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

When we started our charity I don't think any of us actually realised how big it would become, and how quickly it could happen. 2016 is certainly turning out to be THE year for Charlies Angel Centre.

Whilst we will always have our focus on this we will also continue with our Charlie Bear site, supporting children who have been affected by a death.

We know from our own personal experience how difficult it can be for children to cope with a death.

Adults sometimes try to protect children from pain by not telling them what has happened. 
We on the other hand were open with Charlies young cousins about what had happened. 
Experts are now saying that children can benefit from knowing the truth at an early stage. The closer the relationship, the more important it is to be open and honest.

Adults can also help children to cope by listening to the child's experience of death and answering their questions, reassuring them. 
Children often worry that they will be abandoned by loved ones as they deal with their own grief.
If they can talk about the event and express themselves they can often cope better and are less likely to have emotional disturbances later on in their lives.
When a child is only young when they experience a death they can become upset that they are not able to remember what the person looked like so having a photograph of them can be a great source of comfort.

Children often find it helpful to be included in family activities, such as attending the funeral, although a great deal of thought needs to be given as to how to support them and prepare them for this. If a child is frightened to attend a funeral they should not be forced to attend as this could make their experience more traumatic.
You can always find other ways for the child to be able to say their goodbye's, lighting a candle or releasing a balloon, which will leave much more happy memories for them.
Once a child has accepted the death they are likely to display their feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety on and off over a long period of time and often at unexpected moments.
As long as the child is given lots of support and understanding that it is ok for them to show their feelings about the death without worrying about upsetting others then they can feel safe in their grief.
We found that Charlies cousins benefited from having a teddy bear that they named Charlie Bear. 
They would talk to him and take him out with them when they went to the park or on holidays. It really helped them being able to tell the bear how they were feeling.

Watching them gave us the idea that other children would benefit from having their own teddy bear to talk to. This is how Charlie Bears Adventures evolved. 

We now send out free Charlie Bear packs to children who have experienced a death, to give them comfort and support. They also receive a certificate of adoption, colouring pages and lots of other things. 
There is also Charlie Bears website that they can go to which is packed with things to see and do.

If you know a child that could really benefit from getting one of our packs please get in touch.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Through our work we deal with bereaved parents and their families on a daily basis.
Most of those that contact us just need someone to talk to, too off load all the emotions they are keeping locked up inside.
Sometimes they find it easier to confide in us as they do not want to upset their partner or families.
We too have felt and continue to feel the emotions that these families are dealing with and we hope that because of our experiences we are able to offer them some support and friendship. 
When a baby dies, most grieving parents struggle with feelings of guilt. At times the guilt can feel like a flood that threatens to sweep you under.
This is particularly true if your baby died during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
 As a mother you may wonder how you could be so helpless to prevent your baby’s death, even as you carried your little one in your womb.
If the cause of death cannot be determined, you may fill in the blank with your imagination and hold yourself accountable.
 And even knowing rationally that you were not responsible for your baby’s fatal condition, it is normal to feel as though you somehow contributed to it.
You may wonder how you might’ve behaved differently to somehow prevent this tragedy. You may even question the possibility that the most inconsequential acts might have led to your baby’s death.
Guilt arises from the normal sense of responsibility parents feel for their children, and the belief that we have control over what happens to us and our loved ones.
 It is a result of the expectation that if you do all the right things, you’ll have healthy babies and your children will live long lives. 
It comes from the idea that your job is to protect your baby from harm, and if you don’t, you are effectively a bad parent. Some parents suspect this is payback for youthful indiscretions or “bad karma.” 
In reality, none of us have complete control over our bodies, or our children’s destinies. 
If you’re struggling with guilt, try considering the following:
  • Guilt is a normal part of grief.
  • Guilt is a natural result of being a responsible, devoted parent.
  • You need not believe every self-accusation that goes through your head.
  • What happened was beyond your control and never your intention.
  • You are not powerful enough to influence your baby’s fate with thoughts or feelings.
  • You are not powerful enough to invite death with minor, inconsequential actions.
  • You are not powerful enough to stop death.
  • Your feelings of responsibility will fade as you move through your grief and adjust to your baby’s death.
  • Feeling guilty is not the same as being guilty.
Still, some parents will blame themselves.

If your baby's prognosis was poor or uncertain, you may have made life-and-death decisions and feel especially responsible for the outcome.

 If you faced agonising decisions, it may help you to remember that you were in the impossible position of having to choose between terrible and horrible. Whatever your decisions, they were right for your particular circumstances and the information at hand. Most importantly, they were right for your baby, and arose out of your love for your little one and the desire to ease suffering.

Guilt can also accompany any regrets you may have about the time you spent with your little one after birth.
Many parents wish they had been able to spend more time or done certain nurturing acts, but of course, when you’re in the midst of crisis and trauma, it’s so hard to know what will be meaningful to look back on.
In fact, you did the best you could at the time, in that situation, in your emotional and physical condition, and with the amount of information and support available to you.

Forgive yourself for not knowing then what you know now.

Guilt is also a way to hold onto the illusion that you have control over the uncontrollable.
It’s a way to try to make sense of the senseless.
Guilt can feel better than realising that we have very little control, and the resulting feelings of worry and vulnerability.

But in time, the torrent of grief and guilt gives way to smoother waters.

You will regain confidence in your ability to control what you can, and be able to cope with the uncertainties that life presents.

 And in time, you’ll look back and realise that having survived this, you can survive anything.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Last week saw us hold our first Management Meeting. 

This felt like another huge step forward for the charity and made us feel very professional. 

We invited all the trustees of the charity along with the Patrons, Counsellors, Bereavement Liaison Team, Bereavement Midwife and Committee members.

The meeting was reasonably well attended seeing as it was our first and we had some very productive conversations. It was really good to get other peoples ideas and thoughts on how we should continue to move forward.

We have been left with some exciting plans for our future and lots of work for us all to do to try and continue our growth and success.

When you start out as a charity you think it is going to be a straightforward thing, boy were we mistaken. 

We think we have done really well to get to where we are now considering none of us have any background experience in any aspects of running a charity. 
I guess that the skills we have developed over the years as parents, workers and general life skills have all helped us to cope with the stress and difficulties we have encountered.

Over the last 3 years we have all found the things that we are good at within the charity and have slipped into those roles. It is great to have a mixture of skills and experiences as it benefits the charity in many ways. 

At the meeting, with all the other disciplines there, it felt like we can offer such a diverse range of skills and experiences which can only make the charity even stronger. 

The counsellors that we now have on board, offering free sessions to our clients, are absolutely amazing. They give their precious time and have taken on several families alongside their normal workload. This commitment from them still amazes us all and we can't thank them enough. They are very special people.

Through the Bereavement Midwife we have now been getting more and more referrals, this shows us that we are now being seen as a major agency for bereavement support. 
The families we have been put in contact with are now getting the support and help they need to help them cope with the loss of their baby or child.

Everything seems to have progressed so quickly for us and we feel like it is just going to get bigger and better. This excites us but also scares us. We know that what we are fighting for is so important and we will never give up.

Charlie Arthur Curtis will always be a huge part of our lives and he will be our motivation to keep going. 
But now others are also being touched by his courage and fight and they will get the support they need because of him. 

What an amazing legacy to leave behind. What an amazing little boy.