Life has been very fast and furious in the last few weeks! So many incredibly positive things happening around me at the moment that it is becoming difficult to take time out to write about them through this blog. In this post I would like to focus on the work that my charity SimPal is doing and the progress we are making across the UK. We are the only charity in the UK giving free pre-paid sim cards and mobile phones, to people affected by cancer, with no means testing and including ‘people affected by cancer’ not just patients! Our offer is to sponsor people for an initial 6 months, which is then reviewed. Once your application has been approved, the card/phone remain yours, at the end of the term. It is important for us to ensure ease of application and use at what is a very challenging stage of your life.
Mobile communication is absolutely vital to us all these days, but because of cancer poverty, many of our most sick people are quite simply unable to afford to keep in touch this way. Most of us take the practicalities of keeping in touch with hospitals, doctors etc for granted. Yet for many people affected by cancer, their mobile connection is one of the first things they are forced to sacrifice, once the long term financial impacts of cancer start to bite. We want to do our best to help people disadvantaged financially by a cancer diagnosis.
We receive no grants of any description and have no real advertising budget to speak of. Yet we are working throughout the country with demand for our service increasing rapidly. Our work has expanded, having partnerships with several national charities and working directly with social workers and Macmillan Centres. Everything we are able to do is by working with incredible partners donating goods/services and of course money! This week was where all our hard work was on show with Surrey Cricket Club who invited us to be their charity of the evening on Thursday 15th August for their T20 match V Sussex. What a wonderful offer!
Challenging as it was, and with some incredibly generous sponsorships we were able to show off our new branding in public for the first time, with all our fundraisers being seen in their bright pink shirts as the sun lowered behind the incredible setting at the Oval. More importantly was the first public airing of our publicity video, featuring the wonderful Sue and Geoff Southworth, who were early beneficiaries of our support. This was proudly aired on the big screens as I was interviewed about our work, a wonderful moment for all of our team and volunteers!
That evening was not only about fundraising but raising awareness of what we do. I know many had never even heard of us but were impressed to be able to talk directly to the founders as we were holding out our buckets! We have always known the impact that a few fully focussed people can make, but I believe we have surpassed even our own high standards by putting all these things together and continuing to support people affected by cancer, across the UK. All of the people involved with SimPal donate their time to us, meaning that 90% of our donations can go directly to support people. However we are aware that we will need to employ somebody next year to enable us to help more people.
Our business model is an easy one and the idea is as simple as we can make it! Many are now understanding our goals and the impact we can make with a relatively small amount of money. In this technology sector there are so many incredibly exciting things we can do going forward. In many cases many of our larger corporate cancer organisations/charities including the NHS, are being left behind by the agility of smaller groups who are showing the confidence to bring fresh ideas to a stale sector. The customer/patient no longer has to wait for help as it is coming to market quickly now.
I am grateful to be working in the age of the internet, which has become a massive equaliser for small organisations like ours. No more reliant on the ‘brands’ that fill our channels with their PR and block small services so they can dominate the sector. We can tell people about our work directly and let them decide. We don’t need to pay millions on TV advertising to keep telling people about us. Our service users are doing that for us by word of mouth.
There are many things we could be doing better, and more people we could be helping, we are aware of that. More donations will certainly help us support those increasing numbers that are finding out about our innovative work, and for those we would be extremely grateful of course!! If you need some gentle persuasion please watch our new video I mentioned earlier!
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.