• A box of frogs

    by Tessa Paton | Oct 03, 2016
    It’s World Mental Health Day on 10 October. In one sense, well, yes, who cares, awareness days are a bit rubbish. But in another sense, actually I care because mental health is a big thing for me and it’s important so I’m going to use it as a hook for this blog.

    Everybody has mental health, and everybody has mental health problems once in a while. It’s like physical health - no-one’s in perfect shape all the time. But if protecting our mental health had the same status as looking after ourselves physically, then a lot of unnecessary suffering might be prevented. And if addressing crises in our mental health was as much a part of our way of being as when something goes really wrong physically, then maybe the UK wouldn’t have 6,000 fatalities from suicide every year.

    Lots of people have mental health problems – one in four people every year. It’s really very common. That’s more people than support Manchester United or answer their phones in the cinema. But unlike those two more shameful things, there is still an embarrassment and stigma to talking about mental illness.

    Given that all the time we’re surrounded by people who have had, and are having, mental health problems, World Mental Health Day could be a time when all those people shout out loud and proud about it. Then all the people who might not have spoken about their own mental health worries because they’re embarrassed or ashamed might also feel able to do so. And all the people who are currently struggling with mental illness might experience understanding and respect rather than discrimination and fear.

    I have depression, from time to time. I have no embarrassment about it, because it’s part of me and I think I’m generally an OK person. When I was younger I had some nasty episodes. Now I don’t, although I’m occasionally a little bit blue for no reason. Not everyone is that lucky, but it’s important that whether things are going well or badly, those of us with direct experience show that mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of, and there is usually recovery, hope and happiness ahead.

    That’s important not least in the work we do at Demelza. If you think that living with a life-limiting condition might not affect your mental health then you’re mad (pun intended). That goes for being a child or young person with a serious health condition, or being a parent or sibling. It’s why we offer therapies and other support. In a mentally-friendly world it feels OK to talk about our own mental health with someone, and get help if needed. We can make little worlds like that where we are, in our workplaces, homes, families and friendship groups. And where we have the opportunity, we can do it in our blogs.
  • Heavenly sum raised in devil's kitchen

    by User Not Found | Oct 03, 2016
    The devilish hands of a dirty dozen cooks rustled up dinner for 200 – and more than £100,000 for Demelza.

    On one of the hottest days of the year, brothers Mel and Andrew Streek from Marden and 10 of their mates took over the kitchens of the Goudhurst Inn to create a Chinese feast fit for an Emperor.

    Mel and Andrew are long-term supporters of Demelza and wanted to do something extra-special to raise funds for the cause.

    Under the guidance of Alex Tang, from the Honeymoon Chinese Restaurant in Tenterden, they came up with a mouthwatering menu – and an auction backed by some of the biggest business names around.

    The Streek brothers, directors of Claygate Distribution in Pattenden Lane, Marden, were supported by celebrity journalist and TV quizmaster Ian Hislop, TV presenter and antiques expert Raj Bisram, West Indies cricket legend Gordon Greenidge and local auctioneer Clive Emson.

    Demelza’s Major Donor Manager Sarah Kemsley said: “We are so proud of everyone who helped make this such a successful event.

    “We have a lot of people to thank, particularly Richard Balfour-Lynn of Hush Heath Winery and the nearby Goudhurst Inn, for donating the venue and wine, Four J’s for the wonderful Marquee and Nortrade and Handcross Butchers, who donated the majority of the food.”

    All the printing and marketing supplies were donated by local companies and the auction and raffle prizes were donated by businesses and acquaintances.

    Sarah said: “Clive Emson, Ian Hislop and Raj Bisram were just brilliant and all the volunteers were wonderful, not forgetting the generous individuals who purchased tickets and bid for various lots.”

    The evening raised £101,000 for Demelza to support the work the charity does with some 500 children with life-limiting illness in the South East and their families.

  • Sun shines at South East London Community Fun Day

    by Tessa Paton | Oct 03, 2016
    The October sunshine shone brightly as people turned out to our South East London Community Fun Day.

    Dozens came along to Demelza SEL, our hospice in Eltham on Sunday 2 October, to find out more about their local children’s hospice and to have lots of fun at the stalls and games.

    Crowds were entertained by local band Decks and Quartz – made up of four talented 13-year-old friends from Eltham.

    Manager Brian Hughes, dad of guitarist Oliver Hughes, said: “It’s been a great experience for them being able to play at Demelza. We were told about the Community Fun Day by a mum associated with the charity and the boys wanted to give their time to help. It’s been really good for them to learn about the amazing work Demelza do.”

    Angel Beacroft, Miss Face of the Globe England, drew the raffle and lots of Demelza volunteers helped to run the stalls, including the tombola, jewellery, cakes, Christmas cards, bag a bag and hook a duck.

    Ryan Campbell, CEO at Demelza said: “I want to say thank you to everybody who came along to the Community Fun Day and to everyone who helped out at this great event. Sometimes people think of us mainly as a Kent charity, but we are just as much the local children’s hospice charity for South East London.

    “Building profile in London is one of the most important things for us to do right now, so more children and families in the capital can live their lives to the full.”