Popular patchwork elephant Elmer and hospice favourite Woolly the Sheep will be the stars of the show when a busy Ipswich shopping centre helps raise vital funds for people living with progressive and terminal illnesses.
The children’s favourites from St Elizabeth Hospice will be part of the One Great Day event at Sailmakers Shopping Centre on Saturday (June 23) when the focus will be on raising money for St Elizabeth Hospice’s new initiative Zest to make sure a special group of teenagers and young adults no longer have to miss out on opportunities their peers take for granted.
The Hospice has launched an initiative called ‘Zest’ after identifying that the needs of patients aged 14-25, who are in a transition period from child to adult care, are not currently being met.
Zest will focus on raising funds to provide services and facilities tailor made for this age group and to create an environment within the hospice where they feel comfortable and can bring their friends.
Sailmakers Shopping Centre wants to play its part in helping the hospice make its plans a reality so will be donating funds from its One Great Day event on Saturday, June 23 to the Zest initiative.
One Great Day is held at 140 shopping centres across the UK every year to raise money for Great Ormond Street children’s hospital and good causes local to the centres, like Ipswich’s St Elizabeth Hospice.
Jemma Wood, hospice volunteer partnerships team leader, is delighted that Sailmakers is supporting the new venture and says the money will help them provide the type of care that their young patients, usually around 20-30 in total, desperately need and deserve.
“We have a transition programme from children to adults as we had noticed a lack of care specific for that group with progressive and terminal illnesses. Although they’re not young children anymore, they’re not quite old enough to be cared for as an adult. At the hospice we care for people over the age of 14 but a lot of the facilities have been created with adults in mind. We do currently have a dedicated night for young adults once a month and put on events for them, but their needs have outgrown the hospice. We need to raise funds to not only support the young adults we currently have but to provide the care they need and deserve in the future. For instance, we want to offer them the opportunity for sleepovers like any other young adult their age is able to have. They may not be able to go to a friend’s house because they need special equipment or a carer with them. It could be that we have an 18-year-old who wants to go out to pubs and clubs with their friends but needs a carer. With funding we could train and have people who are able to deliver that for them. Another thing is we currently have a day services unit which we use to show movies but it’s only open Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm, but we’d like to be able to open it up at evenings and weekends. It could be used to provide young adults with respite or group meetings such as bereavement counselling. We’d like it to be a drop in facility. It’s about offering the same care we provide for adults but it’s about making it more bespoke and tailoring it to their needs. Also, with the hospice we’re not just there for the patient, we’re there for the family too. When a patient dies we still offer support to family and friends afterwards. It’s an all-encompassing service.”
Mike Sorhaindo, Manager of Sailmakers Shopping Centre, said:
“St Elizabeth Hospice is a popular charity which does so much good work locally so we’re very pleased to be able to help them on our own special charity day. Zest is a brilliant initiative by them because it fills a real hole in provision for young people with life-limiting conditions and their families and helps them enjoy the kinds of activities all young people want to do.”
As part of the Zest fundraising drive, the hospice will be opening a shop in the town centre on June 30 which will be specifically targeted at young adults. Jemma, who has worked for the hospice for five years, said:
“The concept has been talked about for 18 months to two years and this will be our flagship store. Zest is a brand and part of St Elizabeth Hospice with the aim of raising funds through retail to fund the young adult services. We hope to get more young adults involved in the fundraising and to support their peer group. Sailmakers has really taken on board what we’re trying to do as we’re opening up the shop around the corner in Queen Street. It’s a new concept of charity shop. It won’t be called a charity shop or have St Elizabeth’s on the front – it will simply be called Zest. We hope this will attract young adults. We’ll be selling fashion, music and vintage items. We have quite a big space so we hope that it could evolve into a social hub once it’s opened. We get young adults taking part in photography, art and something that is very popular at the moment – refashioning. Although we will be selling donated items we want people to come in and refashion stuff to give it a new look. We are also really keen to encourage young volunteers. It’s good for them to learn new skills and some who have got involved in the hospice in the past have gone into paid roles. It shows that there is lots of benefits to volunteering with us and it’s not just about them benefiting us with their time.”
“The team is in the shop decorating and getting stock ready. We’re on the final countdown now and it’s really exciting for us all. We’ve got a good mixture of volunteers. We have 14 year olds on work experience and 18-19 year olds up to those in their 30s. Once the shop opens it will breed its own volunteers. We want young adults to see what we do and offer and say ‘I’d really like to be a part of that’.”
Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk is the second public art trail to be organised in Ipswich by St Elizabeth Hospice, working with public art specialists, Wild in Art, as well as new partner, children’s publisher Anderson Press.
The Parade, taking place from June to September in 2019, will see 50 individually designed elephants, based on the much loved children’s character, Elmer the patchwork elephant, displayed around Ipswich town centre and waterfront. In addition, 100 ‘young Elmers’ representing schools and youth groups will also join the parade.
In 2016 ‘Pigs Gone Wild’ attracted around 250,000 visitors to Ipswich and boosted the local economy by an estimated £1 million. It raised £200,000 for the hospice – enough to fund one week’s care – and was a highlight of the hospice’s busy fundraising calendar.
Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant has been a nursery favourite since the first book was published by Andersen Press. A modern classic, this picture book is known to millions, and the entire Elmer series has sold over 8 million copies around the world. The subtle inclusive message is that it is ‘OK to be different’.
Norman Lloyd, Campaigns Manager for Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk, said;
“We were thrilled that Sailmakers shopping centre decided to sign up as a sponsor of one of our Elmer sculptures and it is fantastic that they have decided to continue this support by hosting their ‘One Great Day’ in aid of the hospice. We are really pleased to work together with our hospice colleagues and those at Sailmakers to help make this day a great success.”