Q. How did you get involved with The Children’s Trust?
A. I am director of fundraising so my role is to drive the whole fundraising operation. I have been here for seven years. I’ve always worked within the voluntary sector. I previously worked for three other charities including the National Society for Epilepsy. Some 80% of the children here have epilepsy, as a result of brain injury or their condition, so I’ve known about the Children’s Trust for a while.
Q. How did the tie-up between The Children’s Trust and National Doughnut Week come about?
A. It was something that we were very keen to get involved with. National Doughnut Week gives us the chance to really spread the word about The Children’s Trust to a wide audience, nationally.
Q. Who are craft bakers helping by raising money through National Doughnut Week?
A. We have up to 75 children here who have multiple disabilities and very complex medical needs. These are the most disabled children you will find anywhere and they come from all across the UK.
They may be children that cannot walk or talk or communicate in all but the most basic ways; some of the children would struggle to blink if you asked them a question. These are children that probably cannot swallow. Some of them cannot see or hear. Many of them are tube fed or helped to breathe with the use of a ventilator.
Some of the children were born with their disabilities. Some became disabled as a result of a degenerative condition. Others were perfectly normal children who have become suddenly disabled as a result of an accident, where the child has suffered a traumatic brain injury. They need very specialist nursing and care from the staff.
Q. What do bakers have to do to get involved with the campaign?
A. Every independent baker who enrols is sent a pack, which invites them to register and take part. The cost of this is sponsored by BakeMark UK, who have been fantastic; without them we would be struggling.
There is an incentive from BakeMark of free product to cover the cost of the registration. It is a real win-win situation for the bakers and we encourage as many of them as possible to take up the challenge of supporting The Children’s Trust.
Q. How does the scheme work for participating bakeries?
A. Bakers will receive point-of-sale material to promote National Doughnut Week and The Children’s Trust gets a percentage of sales, which is fantastic. The amount depends on each individual bakery, and they can decide how much they want to contribute.
Q. How much would a typical bakery shop hope to raise?
A. It is completely variable and it depends on the individuals involved. Some bakeries really take it to their hearts and do all sorts of fundraising initiatives during the week. They encourage people to buy their doughnuts with wacky promotions and different flavoured doughnuts. It seems to me the more that people endorse it and get involved, the more they get out of it, and certainly the more the Trust will be able to raise from their efforts.
Q. How much money did you make last year?
A. We made £40,000. We wouldn’t be fundraisers if we weren’t hoping that every year we were going to improve on the year before. Hopefully we’ll beat that target this year.
Q. How was that money spent?
A. We’ve had some exciting developments at the Trust in the last year. Since National Doughnut Week 2005 we have built and opened two new children’s houses on the site and they have made an enormous difference to the children, and particularly to their families. When parents make the difficult decision to let their child become residential, they have to wrestle with a whole lot of emotions, including guilt.
The buildings previously did not match the level of care that the children were receiving – they were dark, miserable and dingy. Now, I see more families visiting. Brothers and sisters tear in and out of the multi-sensory rooms and the ball pools. They really enjoy the new environment.
We have also established a new service to provide nationwide support in the community for children who have had a serious brain injury. Children who come to the Trust for rehabilitation make tremendous progress, but when they go home and back to school they can struggle because they do not have that intensive service. Kids are already benefiting from that.
We have also trained volunteers to take the kids on outings, from farm visits to abseiling.
Q. What are your plans for the money raised this year?
A. At the moment, we think there are about between 5,000-10,000 children with
profound multiple disabilities in the UK. The Trust is meeting the needs of a few hundred of them in the course of any one year. We want to meet the needs of far more of those children.
Q. How do you see National Doughnut Week developing in the future?
A. I hope it goes from strength to strength. I’ve had an amazing time. I was coming back from Cornwall some weeks after National Doughnut Week had finished last year and I came off the motorway at Oakhampton to get something to eat. I drove into this tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere and passed a little bakery. And, blow me, there’s a signature in the window saying, ‘Thank you from Liz Haigh-Reeve’. I said ‘That’s me!’ and the woman replied, ‘Oh, have you been round to see all the bakers?’
Q. What message would you like to send to Britain’s craft bakers?
A. My message would be please, please register. It is a great way to raise money and drive sales. And it’s a great way to help children who need all the help they can get. Childhood is the only thing some of them will ever have.