Why we loved being the Hospice’s ‘Charity of the Year’ In 2018, the brilliant Platform Securities chose Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to be their ‘Charity of the Year’. Jayne Stephens, who works at the city centre firm, shares why she nominated the Hospice to be their chosen charity partner and what fun things staff did to help raise funds. In December 2017, I nominated Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to be Platform Securities’ ‘Charity of the Year’ for 2018. After lots of ‘canvassing’ with my colleagues and telling them about the great work the Hospice does, I was delighted that Birmingham St Mary’s won the majority vote and became our chosen charity partner. They had narrowly missed out the previous year, so I was determined that 2018 would be their year! Birmingham St Mary’s has a special place in my heart and so it was important that I could give something back to them. In 2004, my father-in-law John passed away after a short battle with cancer, during which he spent a fair amount of time at the Hospice. I can honestly say that before that, I had never even heard of Birmingham St Mary’s. I feel that a lot of people believe a hospice will be a sad and depressing place because of the nature of their work, which is understandable, but that really isn’t the case at all. In December 2003, my father-in-law was admitted to the Hospice and we visited him almost every night. Every member of staff that we encountered – from the reception staff, to the nurses, volunteers, caterers and more – were so calming and friendly. They had such a kind way about them. As we are a big family, John was transferred to a private room at the Hospice. Having a room meant that the family could visit together, adding some ‘normality’ to his days. John was even at the Hospice on Christmas Day that year. He had Christmas dinner with his wife and I will always remember them saying that despite people being so ill, there was such a lovely and happy atmosphere on the day. Birmingham St Mary’s made such a difference to our last few weeks spent with John and I know that he was immensely grateful for everything that the staff did for him. With this in mind, I wanted to do something that would help raise money for the Hospice. I took part in their festive ‘Jingle Bell Jog’ a few years ago and this made me want to do even more to help – which is why I nominated them to be Platform Securities Charity of the Year partner. Our 2018 partnership kicked off with a ‘Lunch and Learn’ at our office. Charlotte and Pam, who are part of the corporate fundraising team at the Hospice, came in to talk to staff about what they do at the Hospice, how fundraising helps them, and what they do with the funds raised. During the Lunch and Learn, I was surprised to find out how many other people in the room had a personal experience with the Hospice. They too wanted to do what they could to help a charity that had helped someone they loved. We did lots of different things to help raise vital funds for the Hospice. Every Friday, we have a ‘Dress Down Day’ and everyone pays £1 through salary sacrifice. The total amount is then matched by the company, which is then given to our charity partner. It’s a great way for everyone to give a little something and it’s amazing to see how that total really mounts up. Every year, the Hospice holds a ‘Spring Raffle’, in which people can buy a ticket for a £1 to be in with a chance of winning top cash prizes. In the February, we decided to support the raffle by selling tickets to staff and visitors, which raised an impressive £200. Staff also took on their own, personal fundraising challenges for the Hospice. In May, Leon and Laura were brave enough to take on the almighty ‘Tough Mudder’, raising a fantastic £400. They had a great time taking on the muddy obstacle course – it’s certainly not something that you get to do every day! We also had a team of four people take on ‘Trekfest’, which takes place in the Peak District during September. Each person trekked 50km each – a total of 200km overall. This was a massive challenge but a huge £932 was raised as a result of their hard work and determination. It wasn’t just fundraising that our employees got up to over the year – at Platform Securities, every member of staff gets one volunteering day to use if they wish, which a lot of us are always keen to use. Charlotte and Pam kept us up-to-date with any volunteering opportunities that we could get involved in, meaning people could take on an activity that suited them. For my volunteering day, I helped to pack some tasty goody bags for the Hospice’s ‘Chocolate 5k’ event, which turned out to be a really fun experience. We also supported the Spring Raffle campaign by folding tickets and putting them into buckets, ready to be drawn out for the winners. Volunteering at the Hospice was a great way to see the staff going about their day-to-day activities, as well as hearing how they help to support so many people, families, loved ones and carers. The staff really appreciate everything the volunteers do for the Hospice, no matter how big or small you may feel it is. When we got back to the office the next day, we couldn’t stop telling everyone how much we had enjoyed it. We felt so inspired. We also had staff take part in two different volunteer gardening days, one in April and another in August. A team of four went on both dates and everyone really enjoyed doing something physical to support the Hospice – they got a real sense of satisfaction out of it. With the year drawing to a close in December, we wanted to do something special over the festive period. That’s why we put forward a team for the ‘Winter Wonderland’ competition, which saw lots of different businesses from across the city decorate Christmas trees in the Hospice garden. Despite it being a cold Friday morning when the team went to decorate their tree, everyone left feeling motivated and rewarded for the work they did. The team decided to decorate their tree using a poppy theme and used homemade poppies, nutcracker soldiers and illuminated presents to make the garden an even more beautiful place for patients and their loved ones. This event raised a further £225 for the Hospice. Following the year’s events and fundraising, Platform Securities were proud to present a cheque to the Hospice for £18,496.41. When I found out the grand total that we had raised throughout the year, I was so pleased. I feel proud to have been part of raising that amount for Birmingham St Mary’s and I know it will go a long way in caring for local people when they need that support most. Thank you Jayne for sharing your story with us. Birmingham St Mary’s charity partners are crucial in spreading the word of the vital care we provide and help raise those much-needed funds. If you are interested in becoming one of our charity partners, take a look here or contact Pam Hodgetts, our corporate partnership officer, at [email protected] / 0121 752 8773.