I recently took a job fundraising as part of a call centre and so far it has been tough. People don’t have to face you, and when asking for money from strangers the hostilities run wild. This Sunday though I had a rather sweet shift and I thought: hey, why not write about this stuff. Perhaps I should write my own scripts. Great Ormond Street Hospital’s an old one, operating since 1852 and it’s ten beds were the first hospital opened especially for the care of children. Since then over 300 beds have been added and only 50% of children treated are from London, it is a world class institution.
Being briefed on this charity I almost cried because it is something close to my heart. 40% of inpatients are under the age of two, a stat that took my breath away. My dad used to be a lorry driver for a medical firm and he told me how he had met and spoken to some of the children. Walking around looking for someone to sign off in a white coat, he was often mistaken for a doctor. The kids would wave cheerfully from the windows of the wards and when inside he met the most courageous souls. A little boy on crutches particularly grabbed at dad’s heart when he told dad he was dying. My dad told this story to his own children and it’s not hard to picture the devastation of watching a little, innocent, vulnerable body begin to fail. Especially if it’s the same little boy or girl you brought into the world.
I’m pretty sure the passion for a beautiful script was what sold over 50% of my calls to an increased donation and the compassion of the people I called often allowed us both to find a common ground. I will be donating myself to the charity, many people don’t realise quite how little the NHS funds and that the hospital is too a research centre. They need £50million a year for the next ten years to create a duality of good care for both patients and their families.
I think the concept of giving is not so much about keeping the lights switched on in an institution. It’s about sending a token of love to people going through the most helpless and devastating experience they should ever encounter. This is Great Ormond Street: the child first and always.