‘Grant would help sustain the vital work of our charity’

THE founder of a Warwick charity for children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses has welcomed the Chancellor’s financial support which, she says, she hopes will help sustain their vital work during the pandemic.

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.

It is estimated more than £120,000 in proceeds will be lost to their coffers with fundraising events wiped from the calendar due to COVID-19 for at least the next three months.

Molly Olly’s founder Rachel Ollerenshaw with charity mascot Olly The Brave.

At a recent Government daily news conference, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a generous UK support package worth £750m, including a dedicated £370m for small local charities.

He has also pledged to match pound for pound the proceeds from the BBC’s new Big Night In charitable appeal on April 23rd.

In his latest 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.

“At this time when many are hurting, tired and confined, we need the gentleness of charities in our lives. It gives us hope, it makes us stronger and it reminds us that we depend on each other.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw is still awaiting confirmation that her charity qualifies for the grant but said: “We welcome the announcement by the UK Government. Large and small charities work together to improve the lives of children and the virus does not make these children any less vulnerable.

“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. We all have a value and often the nature of smaller more personal charities with more direct contact can be hugely beneficial and help support the work of the larger, national charities. The flatter structure of the smaller charities can help decisions be made faster.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Molly Ollerenshaw
Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

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.

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.

There are now three books in the series, all written and illustrated by local author Diane Maybey.

Rachel added: “Molly Olly’s are continuing to support children with life- threatening illnesses at this extraordinary time through COVID-19 in a variety of ways. This is through our funding of the first Consultant in Paediatric Palliative Medicine based at Birmingham Children’s Hospital who cares for children both at the hospital and in the wider community. This post has been funded by Molly Olly’s for two years. It is also through our wish granting that provides everything from supermarket vouchers or toys that can be used to occupy or distract children whilst undergoing treatment.

“The charity is also currently working with the local community nursing teams to see if we can help widen the offer of support and information available to vulnerable children and their families at this time.

“Like so many other charities, Molly Olly’s have seen numerous fundraising activities cancelled that will lead to a large shortfall in our charitable donations and we are concerned about the long-term impact. The charity supports hundreds of children each year and has supported several key NHS projects since being founded in 2011.”

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.

Warwick MP Matt Western is taking up the charity’s case. He said this week: “Local charities such as Molly Olly’s Wishes do fantastic work to support those who are in desperate need. Every member of the community is facing hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak, and charities are no exception.

“I welcome the Government’s announcement to provide financial support to charities to ensure they can maintain their survival during and beyond this crisis. However, we are currently lacking in detail, and many organisations doubt that the funding available will be enough.

“I sincerely hope (and will be pushing for) local charities such as Molly Olly’s Wishes will receive their fair share.”

Rachel Ollerenshaw added: “While we look into this funding, 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: www.mollyolly.co.uk or contact Rachel on 07747 854914.

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