Celebrating success and acknowledging challenge

In my first ever blog for the charity, I spoke about personal resilience and how this had been core to my own experience of being CEO of this charity during my first three months. As I celebrate my half year milestone with my second blog, I’ve reflected on my own personal resilience and my levels of energy now, as compared to those early days with the charity and of the pandemic.  

Both personal resilience and sustained energy levels have been so important during this intense period of uncertainty and change. The pandemic is impacting on all of us in a multitude of ways. A member of my team referred to it recently as ‘Pandemic Fatigue’. If this were to be a recognised condition, I would have to declare myself diagnosed. That initial euphoria for some who were able to begin to work more “normal” hours when the children returned to school or went off to Uni, was short-lived as infection rates creates this yo-yo effect between school and then home. Others who might have felt relief at having avoided infection, find themselves faced now with Covid in their homes, and that now chronic anxiety experienced by some of us with older relatives has persisted. Quite frankly I found myself almost in tears at a supermarket not long ago and seeing the empty shelves where the pasta should be. Alongside all of this, we are doing everything we can to keep our organisation strong and sustainable, ensuring it is resilient enough to withstand the uncertainty of fundraising. All of this can take its toll on all of us and we are all definitely experiencing bouts of that dip in energy and in resilience – that ‘Pandemic Fatigue’.

Not the most uplifting start to a blog I know! But I think it’s so important to acknowledge the challenges we’re facing both personally, and as an organisation and I hope it gives others some comfort to know they’re not alone – and I’ve always been taught that the first step in successfully tackling a challenge, is recognising it’s there in the first place. The second step then is deciding what you’re going to do about it. We are first and foremost taking good care, of each other, and of the families that we support and paying extra special attention to those who need more from us in this moment. Alongside that, and I appreciate the complete irony in this, we are celebrating. Now, more than ever before, we need to find the joy in every moment we can, and celebrate successes, no matter how big or small. When you’re caught up in firefighting and facing constant challenge, it’s so easy to forget to celebrate when something has worked well – or when something unexpected happens – and we’ve had so many of those moments over recent weeks. And when they happen, we are celebrating, and we are celebrating big – in as much as virtual zoom prosecco parties and screeching at each other down the phone will allow! These moments give us all hope and a much needed infusion of energy that we need to keep persevering. They build back up our resilience and get us through the next challenge.

There are many successes to celebrate, but this blog focuses on the support we’ve had in recent weeks and months from our individual and corporate supporters. Throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, despite the restrictions people face and no doubt the pandemic fatigue as well, our supporters have stepped up. They have ran, cycled, swam, knitted and danced their way across thousands of miles to raise funds for us. One of our Ambassadors was even able to get hold of a painting by Mark Owen (yes THAT Mark Owen) and auction it to raise funds for us, spending countless hours of her own personal time to promote it. Our supporters have introduced us to others who have then taken up our cause.

Our corporate supporters, whilst facing concerns about their own business resilience, are finding new and innovative ways to continue to support us. Volunteering their own time through donating their skills and expertise to help us with those wicked problems. Holding virtual and creative fundraisers like #BEAUTYANDTHEBEARD – and in one case, contacting us out of the blue with a large donation – just in recognition of the work that we do every day. We tell them, A LOT, how much this means to us, but probably don’t give them a sense of the wider impact it has – on our personal and organisational wellbeing, on our energy, our resilience and ability to tackle all the challenges that come our way. I hope through reading this, they will now know what a tremendous difference they are making.  

So we will keep on celebrating, in whatever ways we can, and finding the joy that does shine through even in darker moments. Our thoughts now turn to Christmas 2020. And instead of focussing on what might not be possible, we are choosing to celebrate what is, as we launch our very first virtual Christmas Carol Concert. We may not be together in person, but we will do everything in our power to bring the festivities to life for all of our supporters.  

My thanks to everyone who is supporting us on this journey. It means the absolute world to us.