Children’s charity refused COVID emergency cash

THE founder of a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses is appealing for vital support after missing out on emergency cash to ease the impact of the pandemic to the tune of £250,000.

Many charitable organisations are learning they don’t qualify for grants due to a number of loopholes despite applications for smaller charity grants opening.

Molly Olly’s Wishes was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Hatton Park-based charity helps with the emotional wellbeing of the children and their families as well as granting wishes and donating therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw with the familiar Molly Olly’s pink van.

It is forecast up to £250,000 in proceeds will be lost to their coffers with fundraising events wiped from the calendar due to COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, including the charity’s biggest event of the year, the Molly Olly Ball, in November.

Last month Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a UK COVID-19 support package worth £750m, including a dedicated £370m for small local charities.

In a live speech to the nation, Mr Sunak said: “Some charities provide critical services to support the vulnerable people and communities. For them, shutting up shop at this moment would be to contravene their very purpose, their entire reason to exist. Those charities have never been more needed than they are now and they’ve never faced such a sudden fall in their funding.

“Some £370m of the funding will support small local charities working with vulnerable people. We all know who they are, those small charities in our village, our market towns, in pockets of our cities, the unsung heroes looking after the vulnerable and holding together our social fabric.

Despite struggling to qualify for the cash lifeline, Molly Olly’s founder Rachel Ollerenshaw says the work to provide vital support must continue.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Rachel Ollerenshaw

She said: “Children and families need our support now more than ever. The wishes that the charity grants, the consultant based at Birmingham Children’s Hospital that the charity funds, the Olly The Brave packs distributed to hospitals across the UK – all have a significant positive impact for the children and their families.

“Organisations such as the local children’s community nursing team have turned to us through the pandemic for help connecting with families and a new webpage has been designed by them which will be hosted by Molly Olly’s.

“The work of Molly Olly’s is considered to be relevant and significant by the health professionals and individuals for supporting children with life-threatening illnesses and needs to be maintained.

“Large and small charities work together to improve the lives of children and the virus does not make these children any less vulnerable.”

She added: “Sometimes the work of smaller charities can be overlooked and thought to be less significant. However, from our experience and knowing the work that other small charities do, our belief is that we are all part of a larger jigsaw here to help support vulnerable children through extremely challenging times.”

Having gained its charity status in 2012, Molly Olly’s has so far helped more than 2,000 children from new-born to age 18 by granting individual wishes. They may take the form of equipment to help a child live day to day with their condition; an alternative therapy treatment to complement traditional medicine, or even a special occasion or day out.

Molly Ollerenshaw, Molly Olly's Wishes

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Some 30 children a week in the UK are given a cancer diagnosis, and more are told that they have a life-threatening or terminal illness in one form or another. Many of these, especially those diagnosed with leukaemia will be under five years old.


Matt Western MP
Matt Western MP

Warwick MP Matt Western is taking up the charity’s case. He said this week: ‘‘I’m deeply disappointed that local charity Molly Olly’s has been denied Government support, given all that they do to help children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses, and their families.’

“There are many amazing charities in Warwick and Leamington that work tirelessly year-round to help residents in need of support, and many have gone above and beyond during this crisis. But to continue this work, charities are in urgent need of financial assistance. I am urging the Government to step up and provide a comprehensive support package to the sector, so that charities like Molly Olly’s don’t fall through the cracks.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw added: “These remain worrying and uncertain times and we need, more than ever, to pull together and support the most vulnerable. If everyone reading this made a small donation it could make a big difference.”

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or details of how to donate can be found at: or contact Rachel on 07747 854914.

Read a case study for Molly Olly’s Wishes here.

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