Charity Blog: Hugs from Henry – Part 1

Charity Blog: Hugs from Henry – Part 1

A talk with Elsbeth Hallam of Hugs from Henry

Thank you for working with us to create a unique blog about you, and the development of your charity. We hope this will help to raise awareness of all that has been achieved so far and help to develop the further the aims of the charity.

1. To start us off, please can you let us know a little about how the charity was founded and your motivation?

My son, Henry, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in September 2012, at just 3 years old when I was 24 weeks pregnant with his little sister. We started talking to other families affected by this rare form of cancer and about clinical trials abroad during our lengthy stay at Bristol Children’s Hospital. In February 2013 we decided to investigate this further, and Hugs For Henry was established, initially seeking fundraising to send Henry for clinical trials in America.

During the fundraising efforts Henry continued with treatment, and completed his treatment without the clinical trials, in the UK.

In November 2015 Henry completed his treatment, and by April 2016 Hugs From Henry was created with the aim of supporting other families starting this devastating journey.

From here, the charity has gone from strength to strength with incredible local support in raising awareness, support and vital funds for families who need additional support during such a difficult time.

2. What is your role within the charity, how long have you been doing it, and what does an average day look like for you?

I am the CEO and founder of the charity, and have been since the beginning. It is an extremely busy role. I wake the children up and do the school run, carry out a vast amount of administration, I manage the Hugs From Henry charity shop on the Broadway in Plymstock, support families every day going through similar journeys to Henry, including visiting them in hospital. I also engage in networking to provide continuing support to the charity and arrange popular local group events. I then pick up the children and after they have gone to bed, work late into the night mainly speaking to families and providing them with any support that I can provide.

3. What are the main aims of the charity?

We are very excited to have used Henry’s fundraising to purchase our first respite home in Cornwall. The aim is to give families a much needed break and time together away from hospital, and for grieving families to seek tranquillity.

The respite home has been a project but now refurbished, we hope will be a safe space for families and will be a focus of our fundraising efforts.

We hope that the Hugs From Henry shop will continue to increase in terms of its footfall, and that awareness of the charity increases.

We arrange a number of group events, and we have an active social media following for those interested in the charity to stay involved. Our events range from children’s charity balls, to quiz’s and cinema nights.

5. What motivated you to do the job/role that you are doing now?

Initially our motivation was to ensure that Henry had the best chance at receiving treatment to fight neuroblastoma. Our motivation continues by supporting other families going through such devastating and testing times, and any support we are able to provide gives positive hope.

6. Who else do you work alongside within the charity? Are there any charities that support you, or perhaps a colleague/volunteer that you couldn’t manage without?

The charity is made up of five trustees who are fundamental to making Hugs From Henry operate. We have two paid employees in the Hugs From Henry shop, 1 full time volunteer and the Hugs Team made up of around 15-20 regular volunteers from bucket shakes to group event support.

7. It’s likely that somebody new to the services of the charity is reading this. What would you like to say to them?

If you need support following a recent diagnosis of childhood cancer, Hugs From Henry will help in any way we can. It may be that we can offer 7 days respite in the new home, signpost to another charity if grants are required, we can provide care packs for those little things that are really appreciated during a long stay in hospital and provide emotional support during such a difficult time. We stay in regular contact with our families to make sure they know they are not alone.

8. What are your specific hopes for the future in terms Hugs From Henry?

We hope that the Respite Centre is going to be prosperous and that we can continue to raise enough funds to keep it going, to support families in much needed time away from hospital.

We aim to continue to expand the charity and to help a wider area, continue to raise group events and keep spreading the hope of Henry and other survivors or rare childhood cancer.

9. Thank you so much for taking part in this interview series. Lastly, before we finish - Is there anything else about you, the charity or your job/role that you’d like to let people know about?

We hope that the research being conducted in relation to neuroblastoma and other rare cancers continues to improve, and that the survival rates improve so that children have a fighting chance of growing up.

To find out more information or get in touch with Hugs From Henry, please visit their website.

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