Children's charity sets out bold plans for 2022 funding and growth

Eddie Farwell

Eddie Farwell, co-founder and chief executive of Children's Hospice South West. - Credit: John Bellars

A 'bonkers idea born from a restless night’s sleep' is how Eddie Farwell and his late wife Jill describe the moment which in 1991 led to the founding of Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW).

Three decades later in 2021, the charity celebrated its journey in a variety of innovative ways, with one of the most noteworthy being the creation of a business club for corporate members, which saw £30,000 raised last year alone.

The aim of the business club is to provide opportunities for members to build regional links, raise awareness of their organisations and, crucially, help to make a difference to local children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

For 2022, CHSW is looking to expand the club and is inviting 300 companies across the South West to join - that’s 100 companies for each of its three hospices. With the membership remaining at £300 per business, CHSW hopes to raise £90,000.

CHSW operates three hospices across the South West: Charlton Farm in Wraxall, Little Bridge House in Devon, and Little Harbour in Cornwall. Hospices provide respite, palliative, end of life and bereavement support to more than 500 families from across the region.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the charity has had to adapt its care model to ensure Covid-compliant support wherever and whenever families need it, including in the hospices, and for the first time ever, in families’ own homes. 

Amanda Gallagher, corporate partnerships fundraiser at CHSW, said: “We were humbled by the initial response to the business club initiative and very quickly filled all 100 places. We launched the Club at a time when everybody was concerned about the impact the pandemic was having.

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"The business community was facing unprecedented challenges and people wanted to come together to seek innovative solutions to difficulties they were having. Now we are ready to build on that success, so for 2022, we have set the target of raising £90,000 to help the children and their families we care for.”

Throughout 2021, business club members had to switch to virtual networking events, which proved to be a great opportunity to seek innovation and a safe way forward post-Covid. Late last year, NFFS sponsored the first in-person Business Club networking event at St George’s in Bristol.

Samir Savant, chief executive of St George’s Bristol, said: “We were delighted to be able to host the business club event in partnership with NFFS. CHSW provides vital care for children and families, so we were honoured to hold its first in-person event here in our new, award-winning, space.

"St George’s Bristol is a renowned venue for music and spoken word, but we also want to be seen as a natural partner for the community and for organisations who want to come together."

A notable success story is Life Media, who joined the club in 2021. Sunjay Singh, Creative Director at Life Media, said: “There are a number of different reasons for joining the business club and the first is that it is such a great cause.

"Knowing the impact CHSW has on the local community makes joining a non-brainer. Why wouldn’t you spend the amount of money you probably spend on coffee in a month on supporting this charity?

"The second reason to join is that it has given us fantastic opportunities to meet lots of like-minded businesses. These businesses share similar values, they know they have to invest in the local community, they are proactive and varied – something you don’t find in other networking groups.”

Amanda Gallagher added: “We are all aware of the economic impact of the pandemic and its long-term effects on the community, but CHSW has remained able to provide vital care to children and families and that’s thanks to the continued support of the business community.

"There really is power in people coming together and we are inviting all businesses to join with us in 2022 to help us to continue to make the most of short and precious lives for many years to come.”

If you are interested in becoming a member of CHSW’s Business Club in 2022, visit www.chsw.org.uk/businessclub or email Amanda.gallagher@chsw.org.uk