Supporting those who support life-saving charities
Zoë, our Client Services Director, shares her experience of spending time at Tommy’s, the charity committed to saving babies’ lives
The team at Conscious Communications is very fortunate, for more reasons than one, but one in particular is that each team member is allocated two days a year to volunteer at a charity of our choice. This is not necessarily unlike other companies these days, but this is in addition to our team-nominated Charity of the Year, which we help with PR and marketing support throughout the year. Over the years I have spent time at St Nicholas Hospice Care Charity, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre – all of which have been incredibly rewarding for different reasons – personally and professionally. This year I spent my time at Tommy’s, which funds research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, to help support the charity’s upcoming sporting events.
It’s a frightening fact that one in four women loses a baby during pregnancy and birth and, unfortunately, there is still far too much silence and shame around baby loss. Tommy’s wants every parent to have the best possible pregnancy outcome and to take home a happy, healthy baby – the research that the charity funds is so important, as are the conversations that are being initiated to pave the way for greater awareness. A vital service that Tommy’s also provides is a PregnancyLine – staffed by midwives who provide information and support to parents and families.
I first became aware of Tommy’s when my sister ran the London Landmarks Half Marathon in aid of the charity earlier this year. She told me a bit about what they did and I was immediately interested in hearing more. Having up to date research is essential to providing the evidence that will make antenatal care better for all and Tommy’s funds four maternal and foetal research centres in the UK. I wanted to help. We always offer our skills in PR and marketing to the charities at which we volunteer (I have written press releases, social media strategies and website content over the years) but often charities are equally thankful for volunteers who are computer literate and can take on data entry or confidently pick up the phone to speak to donors or fundraisers.
For my two days at Tommy’s I sat with the Sporting Events Team who work tirelessly throughout the year on a number of sporting events, for which participants pledge to support the charity by fundraising. I was tasked with calling all riders in the recent Ride London-Surrey to wish them good luck ahead of the event – there were hundreds! The responses I received were extremely heart-warming – not just the gratitude for receiving a call from the charity wishing them good luck but hearing some of the stories about why they wanted to support Tommy’s. From loved ones sadly losing a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth to those who have gone through it themselves – I was in awe at the strength and determination of these people. They were also taking on a 46 mile or 100 mile cycle ride in 30 degree heat – no easy feat! The stories just solidified in my mind how important a resource Tommy’s is – the information and help it provides (via its website, research, PregnancyLine and social media) is a crucial support for women and their families who have gone through or are going through an incredibly traumatic time.
The following day I was tasked with calling participants of the Royal Parks London Half Marathon in October who have pledged to run for Tommy’s. The calls were to introduce individuals to what Tommy’s can offer by way of support with fundraising but also to see how they were getting on with training and give them moral support. Again hearing the stories about why they were taking part in aid of Tommy’s really affected me – in a positive way. Of course the stories were incredibly upsetting but I could hear first-hand what a difference Tommy’s made to them and their families in their time of need.
As a company we are very aware that charities are often under-resourced and so they do appreciate the time we give to support them and the impact our time spent on any number of activities could have for the charity. For example, my time spent making these phone calls over the two days feeds in to Tommy’s on-going supporter relations programme, which is an important strategy for a charity to get right. A charity relies on its supporters and fundraisers and so on-going communication with them is essential.
Although it is us who give our time, the insight into people’s experiences and the work that charities like Tommy’s do is invaluable to us as individuals too. For my part I will certainly be pledging to support Tommy’s when I next put on my running shoes!