Luke Cameron, winner of the Nicest Job in Britain, continues his charity journey with work at a children’s hospice, a charity for parents of premature babies, and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
My third week involved probably the most emotionally challenging charity I will visit this year, a children’s hospice.
As I drove up the drive to the purpose-built home, my mind was racing with a million thoughts before I had even gone through the door.
Would it be sad?
Could I cope?
How would the parents react to me being there?
But the last thought I had was this: I am in the lucky position to be able to walk away; these families are living it.
So pull yourself together and do your best work.
From helping with PR to working a day in their charity shop, and cooking for the families who were receiving care; regardless of what you are doing you do it for them, the kids.
I was invited into a music session with a 20-month-old girl, where we played guitar and drums. She laughed and giggled the whole way through.
But soon after I found out she had months left to live.
I don’t really know how to express those feelings. It’s sadness and happiness all rolled into one. Sadness for her imminent loss, but happiness knowing that I helped give her happiness, even in the short time she has left.
Martin House is a place and an experience that will stay in my heart for a very long time.
Week 4 was also tough, but enlightening. Bliss care for adults who have premature and sick babies, and I spent most of my week travelling across the north of England to neo-natal care units.
A premature baby is never something you can really prepare for. When you go into labour there is no force that can stop that, and if, like some of the mothers I met, it’s at just 24 weeks’ gestation, you know things aren’t going to be ok at the birth.
I think what shocked me most was to learn that having a premature baby isn’t taught in our schools. Yet 1 in 8 mothers who have a baby will go into premature labour.
I really was blown away with Bliss. They are a compassionate organisation who have grown carefully and acquired a great amount of talent that has taken the charity from strength to strength.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust
Known as the silent condition, CF seriously affects your lungs, but people who have it look like you and me.
Yet the condition not only drastically shortens their life expectancy to 40, but means they have to be careful about where they go and what they do, in fear of cross contamination from another CF sufferer.
The charity raises around £15m a year and a hefty percentage of that goes into funding research to find a cure.
I spent the majority of my time with the philanthropy and strategic partnerships team, learning all about fundraising and getting my hand in at writing some trust funding letters.
It was incredibly insightful to see how a successful charity manages their fundraising efforts, and a great deal can be learnt from them.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Week 6 was a big change.
Being a huge doggy lover and owner of a beautiful little whippet myself, Guide Dogs for the Blind caught my eye from the beginning. Raising a whopping £52m a year, they have nailed success and are the beacon for every other charity.
Not only that, but what they do is beyond amazing. Their dogs are mind-blowing.
On my wonderful visit I met Penny and her guide dog Clova, who is Penny’s eyes and ears but, more importantly, her friend.
What amazed me the most was that Clova had been taught where each shop was in her local town, so when asked, she would direct Penny to Tesco or River Island.
My week ended at the impressive breeding centre. As I drove up the drive to what can only be described as a university campus-style complex, I was truly in awe of what they had achieved.
Now that I have 6 charities under my belt, I can safely say that I am getting the hang of the Nicest Job in Britain. I will admit I was pretty daunted initially by the challenge; it’s a lot to take on.
But I am having the time of my life. So here’s to the next 39 charities…