Charities offering end of life support, new baby supplies and facial differences awareness up for Who Cares Wins award | The Sun
THEY say charity begins at home, but these amazing people have been quietly making the world a better place for tens of thousands of people, often without the recognition they deserve.
We were blown away by the stories of ordinary people who, when faced with life’s challenges, not only overcame them, but took their own pain and helped turn it into something incredible.
From a grieving mum who gave away her daughter’s baby supplies to someone in need and ended up helping 10,000 needy children, to another who was determined to change the world for people with facial differences – and a woman who vowed no end of life patient will die alone, they’ve helped thousands.
The winner of the Best Charity gong at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards will be honoured at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on September 24.
Our awards, sponsored by the National Lottery, and in partnership with NHS Charities Together are now in their sixth year.
These are our Best Health Charity finalists….
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MORE THAN A FACE
WHEN a stranger told Charlie Beswick her baby boy looked like a ‘Halloween monster’, she made it her mission to change the way the world viewed facial differences.
When her twin boys, Oliver and Harry, were born in 2005, doctors told Charlie that Harry had been born with Goldenhar syndrome, meaning one of his eyes, nose and one ear didn’t form during pregnancy.
Her children were healthy but Charlie, 44, was left heartbroken and furious at the way the world treated Harry differently to his twin, Oliver, as they were growing up.
In 2017, she set up More Than A Face, to encourage understanding and inclusion for people like Harry with facial differences.
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Charlie said: “I could see from when the boys were babies how differently they were treated.
“Harry looked different and was treated that way. He was called a ‘Halloween monster’ once when he was little and Oliver’s appearance was never mentioned.
“It was just so devastating and I wanted and needed it to change.”
Harry and Oliver were born at 32 weeks and Harry has since undergone more than 20 surgeries on his face.
But despite supporting him through this, by the time the boys were toddlers, Charlie decided to take on an even bigger task – changing the way the world thought about her beautiful son and people like him.
She said: “I didn’t want to change Harry, I wanted to change how the world saw him.
“One day, when Harry was around two, I was shopping when some children started staring.
“At first I was annoyed, but I saw my chance, took a deep breath and invited them over.
“I explained why Harry looked like he did and then one of the girls in the group told me he was quite cute. It changed everything for me.
“They just needed to understand and I knew that I could help to make that happen.
“I’d connect with everyone I could on social media and speak to anyone who would listen about how we need better understanding and acceptance,”
The brave mum, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, has spent thousands of hours campaigning to change the lives of people with facial differences, by speaking at seminars and events at colleges and schools.
And her hard work has made a difference to hundreds of people.
Ashley Carter, 23, from Taunton, Devon, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that meant he was born with no ears or cheekbones.
He nominated Charlie and More Than A Face for her incredible work helping to change attitudes.
Ashley, who has undergone more than 30 operations, said: “The world needs more mums like Charlie.
“I didn’t think twice about nominating her. She’s got so much love and she wants to change the world for people like Harry and me.
“We don’t need to change – we can’t – what we need are people’s attitudes to change.
“Charlie is doing an amazing job in helping to make that happen.”
THE ANNE ROBSON TRUST
WHEN Liz Pryor’s mother died alone, shortly after being discharged from hospital, she was determined that end-of-life patients would be treated with dignity.
Her mum, Anne Robson, 79, had spent a week in hospital following a fall, and due to an outbreak of norovirus, the hospital had stopped visitors.
Anne died just hours after being discharged, after a week in hospital where care and communication was poor.
Heartbroken and distraught at her treatment, Liz set up The Anne Robson Trust, named in honour of her mother with the tagline: No one deserves to die alone.
Volunteers go into hospitals to sit with and talk to patients who are on their own or whose families live miles away.
Liz, 57, says: “After my mother died, it put fire in my belly to start doing this.
“For people to remember that they are a human being, that they have had a life. They are someone’s mum or granny or daughter.
“If you have someone to hold your hand or brush your hair, you don’t feel frightened or lonely.”
Currently the charity is working with 18 hospitals who have 170 volunteers across the country, and helped more than 5,000 people last year.
The charity was nominated by Peter Harrison, 79, after they helped him when his wife Christine went into hospital following a stroke.
Peter, who was married to Christine for 53 years, said: “Christine went into a coma which she never came out of.
“If I stayed too long in the hospital it would have been too much for me. You can’t be there 24/7. I could go for two or three hours a day.
“It was a relief to know there was more than me talking to her, to have other people able to say comforting things.
“Christine was into quilting and the volunteers suggested I bring in a quilt to put on her bed.
“The nurses do what they have to do, but they are rushing around.
“If there is somebody else more relaxed there, it takes a bit of pressure off the nurses as well.”
Caroline Stevens, 48, a Volunteer Coordinator at the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, recruits and trains the volunteers with assistance from The Anne Robson Trust.
Caroline said: “Nobody likes to talk about death or dying, but it’s the only certainty in life.
“Our volunteers go in with empty hands and with no agenda.
“They are not going in with a clipboard or a stethoscope, so everybody does relax more. They often bridge difficult gaps.
“For patients who are unresponsive, we can find out from their families who they were, what they did and what they liked.
“Then we can make sure we play music or read something they might like.
“Sometimes families are grieving and you often find that a volunteer can break down those barriers between staff, patient and families.
“Just offering a cuppa and a chat can be really therapeutic.”
STEPH Capewell’s daughter Amelia tragically died when she was just 12 minutes old – but even in her darkest hour, Steph was still thinking of others.
Steph and husband Phillip, 34, were devastated when a 20-week scan showed that Amelia had multiple complications and would not survive when she was born.
As Steph, 30, waited in a corridor at Sunderland Royal Hospital, she spoke to a teenage mum who had been brought in in labour and didn’t know she was pregnant.
The new mum had nothing for her surprise baby, and kindhearted Steph immediately wanted to help, despite her own suffering.
Steph said: “The midwife told us the hospital doesn't really have any way to help people in that situation.
“We passed on some of Amelia’s items that we had brought in, so she could use them for her little girl.”
Little did Steph know that that single act of kindness would lead to her setting up a much needed charity.
In the months after Amelia died in 2018, Steph put together 12 boxes – one for each minute of Amelia’s life – intended as a gift from Amelia, and included a letter to new families, signed: ‘Love, Amelia.’
Steph says: “We put the essentials to help families in those first few days. We donated 12, which as you can imagine went very quickly.”
Realising there was a huge demand in the area, she registered Love, Amelia as a charity in 2019.
Steph, who lives in Castletown, Sunderland with Phillip, with their three-year-old son Jack, says: “We helped about 50 children in that first year.
“In July we helped our 10,000th child. We have distributed over £1million worth of items throughout the area.
Steph, a former social worker, is adamant that a good start in life should be available for every child.
Steph added: “We support teenage parents, survivors of domestic abuse, victims of trafficking.
“We have a lot of pre-loved, donated items, but the standard we have is high because we want families to be treated with respect and dignity.
“Everyone’s child is no less deserving.”
The charity now has four full-time staff, plus volunteers.
Steph says: “Amelia is a big part of our family. We know that she can have a big impact on the community, even though she was only with us for a short time.
“I never set out to start a charity, but I absolutely love what we do.”
Love, Amelia was nominated by Karen Noble, manager at the Pallion Action Group, a community action hub in Sunderland.
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Karen, 53, says: “I’m in awe of Steph, somebody who has taken a personal tragedy to make something so wonderful as Love, Amelia.
“It’s that legacy of Amelia that’s living on which means that she’ll never be forgotten. It takes a really strong person like Steph to do that.”
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