In aid of fundraising

Touch of Sparkle

Touch of Sparkle

How did you first get involved in fund raising in aid of HCCN?

Touch of Sparkle was established in March 2015 to provide ‘care packs’ to hospital patients and over 3000 packs have now been given out. The care packs are mostly donated to cancer patients but batches are also produced for other departments as part of special projects, at the request of the hospitals involved. The idea behind the project is to provide a little care and humanity and try to lighten the load at a difficult time – essentially, to spread a ‘touch of sparkle’ to patients.

Touch of Sparkle began working with HCCN in 2020 after having been put in touch via another local cancer charity, ‘Something To Look Forward To’. We are very grateful to have such a close and friendly collaboration with HCCN who very kindly collect and distribute our cancer care packs, both as part of their unique home-based nursing service based around Hinchingbrooke Hospital and via the Woodlands Cancer Centre. This has enabled us to support more patients in the wider Huntingdon area during their cancer treatment.

Tell me about what you do – I know a lot of effort you put into creating your packs.

Touch of Sparkle care packs include:
– Practical items (e.g. bed socks, earplugs, tissues, moisturiser, lip balm, herbal tea for anti-sickness)
– Distractions (e.g. puzzle book, notebook, pen, playing cards)
– Pamper items (e.g. nail varnish, chocolate, sweets, make-up)

The items are purchased from donations to our GoFundMe page and via our Amazon wishlist in addition to donations from national, local and online businesses. They are then packaged and delivered to patients.

Fundraising remains a constant challenge for any small-scale charity project like ours but where there is a will, there really is a way! Whether sending out emails to online and local businesses who may have items to spare, securing charity grants or running auctions online – by drawing on a wide range of fundraising methods, we have managed to keep going, even during the Covid period.

We also liaise with a range of local charities including the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, Hunts Community Cancer Network, Something To Look Forward To, Maggies Cambridge, Butterfly Boxes, Woodlands Cancer Care and Macmillan Cambridge. We are very grateful for their ongoing input and collaboration.

Touch of Sparkle - 2000th handover

Touch of Sparkle – 2000th handover

Touch of Sparkle - Ladies oncology pack

Touch of Sparkle – Ladies oncology pack

Touch of Sparkle - Mens A&E pack

Touch of Sparkle – Mens A&E pack

Who else gets involved?

Touch of Sparkle was established by Melanie Hersey in 2015 and got off the ground thanks to generous support from a music fan base (Adam Lambert fans – on an unofficial basis). Much of the funding and support still comes from within this fanbase today, both in the UK and worldwide. Fans from across the world regularly donate to the project. We also have a dedicated group of supporters who send items for our care packs (e.g. toiletries, teabags and sweets), who craft and create gifts and treats for patients, who translate articles and posts into other languages and who donate merchandise or artwork for auction to support our fundraising. Every single person involved helps us to fill more care packs and support more patients. It is truly humbling to connect with supporters from all corners of the globe, united in the aim bringing a little relief to cancer patients.

What do you get out of it?

Running Touch of Sparkle has been a truly rewarding experience from day one. The initial aim in 2015 was simply to fund 10 care packs. However enough funds were immediately raised to fund 50 packs and the project has grown from there! It has been wonderful to liaise with local charities, nurses, national and local businesses and kind supporters alike, bringing together support and assistance in all forms and from across the globe to reach out to as many cancer patients as possible. This generosity and kindness from so many different people has inspired me to continue with the project over the years.

What other fundraising ideas have you had or plan to do?

Over the years, we have run regular ebay auctions of items donated by our kind supporters. We also run very active social media campaigns to maintain fundraising and have been very lucky on occasion to receive grants from The Pink Ribbon Foundation, Greggs Foundation, Cala Homes and One Stop Community’s Carriers for Causes.

What are the best bits – and why?

The best part is to receive feedback from patients. The care packs are all handed out by the nurses, not directly by Touch of Sparkle, so it is lovely when someone takes the time to write a message and let us know that the care pack made a little difference in lifting their spirits. We never expect to receive feedback because recipients are, understandably, going through a very difficult time so knowing that someone has taken the time to write to us despite that is very humbling. Every message we receive is magical and makes our day!

What other charities do you support, and how?

Working with other local charities is invaluable to Touch of Sparkle and the project could not run without their support. We liaise closely with both the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and Hunts Community Cancer Network where our care packs are donated. Their nurses very kindly take time out of their busy shifts to pass our care packs onto the patients. We also have a close and friendly relationship with local cancer charity Something To Look Forward To who have been a source of constant guidance and support over the years, as well as providing many items for our care packs. Earlier this year, we donated some of our care packs to them to mark Random Acts of Kindness Day.

What are your ’top tips’?

My top tip would be that if you have an idea of how you can help others in some small way, try it and see where it leads! Whether a one-off act of kindness or a long-term project, we can all play a small part in lightening the load of others. It is important not to underestimate the impact of small gestures – in some cases, for example, hospitals and treatments may feel clinical and overwhelming. A little distraction, snack, notebook or pair of earplugs may seem small but these items can help to ensure a hospital visit runs more smoothly and let people know that others are thinking of them.