• Demelza is set to build on our apprenticeships success stories

    by User Not Found | Mar 06, 2017

    This week is National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2017 and with two great success stories to date, Demelza is really pleased to be expanding its apprenticeship scheme.

    We piloted an apprenticeship scheme in 2014 and took on two apprentices at Demelza. 

    Sophie LaHaye (pictured above) was our first apprentice, working in the HR team. It was such a success that Sophie went on to get a full-time job as an HR assistant at the end of the scheme and now leads on all of our recruitment.

    She says:  “Following on from last year, I have taken on the role as Recruitment Lead for Demelza. Going back to the start of the apprenticeship, I never thought I would have progressed so far and into a position that I love so much. Every day is different and each week brings new challenges and learning experiences.”

    Leah Akhurst then joined Demelza in our lottery team.

    Leah says:  “My apprenticeship at Demelza has given me the opportunity to enhance my skills and develop my confidence in the workplace.”

    Director of People and Resources, Lavinia Jarrett said: “Demelza must grow our skills in all areas and Apprenticeships are a fantastic ways to achieve this.”    

    Building on these successes, Demelza is delighted to be in the process of setting up an apprenticeships scheme which is due to be launched in the Spring of 2017. We will be looking for business administration apprentices to join our busy teams across the organisation.  To register your interest for updates about this scheme, please email your details to recruitment@demelza.org.uk, reference – Apprenticeship Scheme 2017.

  • Lifelites brightens days for Demelza children

    by User Not Found | Feb 28, 2017
    Children at our Eltham hospice are enjoying a £50,000 package of new technology and services donated by the national children’s charity Lifelites.

    Items donated included iPads and touchscreen computers installed with lots of games and other software specially designed to be accessible for children with disabilities.

    The children and young people are able to play games, be creative and communicate with their families - something which may have been impossible for them to do previously.

    The hospice also had some of their older pieces of equipment updated.
    One of these was the Magic Carpet, donated previously by Lifelites.

    This is a portable box which projects moving images on to the floor, a wheelchair or a bed, which children can interact with. This technology gives them the chance to escape the confines of their condition and play one of the many games or animations, such as playing football or splashing in the sea

    Lifelites is also providing ongoing technical support and training for the hospice staff as part of the four-year package, including training on how to use their Eyegaze.

    This allows those with limited mobility to control a computer using just by moving their eyes. By using the Eyegaze, children who struggle to communicate with their family and their carers are able to do so – often for the first time.

    Ann Fagg, Care Services Lead at Demelza South East London, said: “This very generous donation has made a world of difference to the children who use our hospice and its facilities. They are able to experience whole new environments on the Magic Carpet, while the iPads and Eyegaze enable them to communicate in new ways as well as obtain a reaction from the slightest movement by a sound or visual response.”

    Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites said: “The magical technology we have donated can be used to play, to be creative and communicate, and enrich the lives of these children and their families, for as long as is possible. We couldn’t have provided this package if it wasn’t for the generosity of our donors, so for this we are incredibly grateful.”

    Among the local donors was Freemason Paul Flowerday. who raised over £4,000 for the project by taking part in a Santa Run last December. Others who helped to make this project possible are the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Kent, Children with Cancer UK, the Khoo Teck Puat foundation, GamesAid and Microsoft.



  • Students get stuck in for Demelza

    by User Not Found | Feb 13, 2017

    Students from Canterbury College gave up a day of their studies to learn how Demelza helps families facing the loss of a child.

    Students from the college’s Media and Communication department decided they would pitch in and help raise some cash for Demelza – as well as awareness of the charity – when they took to the streets of the city with a bucket collection.

    On the same day, others volunteered their services in 10 of our charity shops, while others worked in the warehouse, sorting clothes, toys and other donated goods.
    More than 100 students were involved in the project, on Wednesday, February 8.

    Demelza’s Shops Operations Manager Rachel Stead said: “Volunteers play a key role in the life of Demelza. Without them, we simply couldn’t function and we are always pleased to have a spare pair of hands on board – so 100 pairs for the day were fantastic!

    “Our shop managers were nothing but complimentary of the students’ hard work and commitment to helping make the day such a success and several students have asked to register as volunteers. I couldn’t be prouder of our team in trading and of our positive relationship with Canterbury College and the students who absolutely gave their all to support Demelza.”

    This is the fourth year the college has supported Demelza on the College Community Day and head of the department Zoran Tesic said: “It’s a great way to help raise funds for Demelza whilst teaching the students some important ‘people’ skills. They learn about teamwork, the value of charitable giving whilst giving them a glimpse of the difficulties some families face."

    Digital Design and Games Development students from Canterbury College Media and Communication department have been involved in collaborating with Demelza for the last three years raising almost £8,000 through Games Tournaments. This year, a new event – a Digital Expo - will help not only raise awareness of Demelza but also celebrate the students’ work.

    Community fundraiser Leila Ilkhan said: “We are very grateful to the college and all the students who took part. This was a great team effort. If any other schools or colleges would like to follow their example, we’d love to hear from them!”

  • Demelza website is just Champion!

    by User Not Found | Feb 13, 2017
    Demelza's website has been voted the Champion of Champions in the 2017 Digital Awards.

    The site was voted the best in Kent in the schools, education and charity sector in June 2016, automatically qualifying for the Grand Final against other winners in the region.

    Demelza was one of 15 category award winners selected by public vote and one of only three awarded to Kent-based businesses at a ceremony held at the British Film Institute, on London's Southbank, on February 9.

    We fought off stiff competition from five other contenders, including Alzheimer’s Research UK, Havering College and Bishop’s Stortford College, to scoop the Champions Award, introduced for the first time this year.

    Other finalists came from Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Milton Keynes.

    The website - launched just over a year ago - was designed by Ipswich-based Itineris Ltd. with a focus on striking imagery and videos, using the banner of #ItsAboutLife
    Families who use our services, as well as staff and volunteers, all helped with the concept.

    Tessa Paton, Head of Marketing, said: “We wanted to dispel the myth that children’s hospice care is consumed with sadness, so our aim was to produce a vibrant, eye-catching site which captured what Demelza is all about – life. We have allowed the emotive images of our children and our care to do the talking and are absolutely delighted that we have received recognition with both of these awards – first in Kent award and now across the six regions.”




  • Ooh la la! Cyclists get set for Paris!

    by User Not Found | Feb 10, 2017

     
    Riders are already rolling up for next year’s Demelza 101 Challenge – and the chance to cycle cross-channel from Sittingbourne to Paris.

    Almost a quarter of the 100 contenders needed have already signed up – and the challenge is still more than a year away!
    The first 101 to Paris in 2014 was a huge success, so we have decided to repeat the run – only this time, with a different route, passing through Arras, the battlefields of the Somme, and Compiegne, where the armistice between France and Germany was signed at the end of both the First and Second World Wars.

    We have asked Chapeau Events to put together a route exclusively for us and the group of cyclists will set out from Sittingbourne on May 2 2018, arriving in the French capital four days later. Chapeau Events are also providing the support crew for the challenge, in which riders will cycle 307 miles in total – more if they divert from the designated route!

    The five-day adventure culminates in a celebration meal and photo shoot at the foot of the famous Eiffel Tower.

    Registration is now open on our events page. All entrants will receive a free Demelza cycling jersey and full support in fund-raising prior to the event. Anyone aged 16 and over can enter – although under-18s must be accompanied by an adult.

    Last year’s big bike ride – to Amsterdam – raised more than £200,000.

    If you can’t wait until 2018 to take part in the Demelza 101, there’s still time to sign up for this year’s event – climbing picturesque Scafell in the Lake District, or tackling a scenic triathlon – canoeing in Derwentwater, a 25-mile cycle ride and six-mile trek.


  • Swimmers take the plunge for Demelza

    by User Not Found | Jan 31, 2017
    More than 50 daring divers braved the winter chills and plunged into the outdoor waters of Charlton Lido to raise funds for Demelza.

    Among them was Adam Phillips, from Maidstone and brother of the late Demelza Phillips, after whom the charity was named. Adam took on a whopping 2km challenge along with 20 other brave swimmers including Mary Groutage from Lee whose 2-year old nephew, Harry, is supported by Demelza in Eltham.

    Swimmers were aged from 6 to 72 and swam distances from 100 metres (two lengths) to 2km (40 lengths), raising vital funds to help with our work.

    Some of them took the plunge wearing fancy dress and a host of singing fish from the Bexleyheath Rock Choir along with characters from Star Wars and Minions could be found bobbing about in the pool during the course of the afternoon.

    Entrants were rewarded with hot drinks and refreshments after the swim as well as a commemorative Snowflake Swim medal.

    The Snowflake Swim took place at Charlton Lido in Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill, on Sunday (January 29).

    Events Co-ordinator Gemma Murray, who took part in the swim herself, said: “We were really pleased to see so many people embracing this chilly challenge again this year.
    “Last year our swimmers raised an incredible £20,473 and we would love this year’s brave participants to beat that!”

    Check out our image gallery

  • Demelza on TV - text Memories to donate

    by User Not Found | Jan 30, 2017


    A number of our children have taken part in a TV commercial which aims to raise awareness of Demelza in London and the South East.

    The commercial, made possible thanks to Kent-based Swale Heating donating £26,000-worth of their own air-time to us, was filmed by Red Goat, with the voice-over recorded at the Sunlight Centre, Gillingham.

    Due to be aired in the London and Meridian regions from February, the commercial features the voice of 11-year old Caitlin, who recites a moving poem which accompanies the 30-second commercial.

    As well as promoting the vital work of Demelza, the advert prompts viewers to text to donate – a key feature, as the charity is reliant on community generosity to be able to provide care to families in need.

    Viewers are invited to text 'MEMORIES' to 70660 to donate £3. You can also donate via our website here

    Demelza Chief Executive Ryan Campbell said: “This is the first time Demelza has advertised on television and we are enormously grateful to Swale Heating for giving us this exciting opportunity.

    “It will bring our work to the attention of a wide audience and hopefully show them what a vital service we provide to families of children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.”

    Caitlin, who suffered a stroke at the age of four and has complex heart problems, said: “It was brilliant to be asked to be the voice for Demelza, even though I was really nervous. I felt like I was speaking out on behalf of all the other children who use Demelza, which was a real privilege.”

    Swale Heating displays the Demelza logo on its vans and services our heating free of charge. The company is always looking for more ways to support Demelza and Sales Director Matthew Edwards said: “Demelza is an amazing charity. We wanted to give them an opportunity to tell more people about their work.”

    Check out the advert below.

  • Bridal room boom after Paulette's dress goes viral

    by User Not Found | Jan 30, 2017
    The bridal department of our Canterbury shop has seen a boom, after a mystery benefactor donated a dress bought with Demelza lottery winnings.

    Paulette Philpott scooped £1,000 in our weekly lottery - the same day she spied her dream dress in a Maidstone bridal shop.

    Following her wedding, in June 2015, she decided to donate the dress back to Demelza to sell in its Canterbury bridal boutique.

    The only problem was - she didn't leave her name, so we mounted a major search to find her, starting with the bridal shop and ending with the local press.

    Paulette was duly found and, when news of her generous gesture - and how she came by the Stella York dress - hit the headlines, the Canterbury shop was besieged by customers wanting to take a look.

    Paulette, 58, said:"I’ve done the lottery for years, not because I want to win, but to support the charity.
    "The dress I really loved was two pounds short of £1,000. It seemed an awful lot to pay for something you only wear once. When I got home and opened the post and there was a cheque for £1,000 I could barely believe my eyes.
    It was as if it was meant to be – and meant I could buy my dress.”


    Paulette and her partner Mal tied the knot at Upchurch River Valley Golf Club in June 2015.
    Paulette said: “We had quite a big wedding, with five bridesmaids, who all looked gorgeous – but the dress made my day absolutely perfect.
    "Afterwards, it hung around at my mum’s for a while, then in my wardrobe, taking up space.
    "In the end, I decided it would be nice if I could give it to someone else to make their day just as special as mine had been.”

    The dress is now among dozens of beautiful gowns in Demelza’s charity shop in Burgate, Canterbury, which has a specialist bridal department, selling beautiful new and pre-loved wedding gowns priced from £80 - £500.

    Shop manager Lauren Ashby said: “It was a lovely gesture for this lady to give the dress back to us – I’m sure it won’t be long before it is snapped up!”

    Paulette's story was featured on ITV Meridian News and the Otford shop Brides Dress Revisited has offered to donate unsold and unclaimed stock to Demelza's bridal room.  

    Paulette, from Sittingbourne, said: It’s lovely to be able to give something back. Demelza does such amazing work.”

    Demelza’s lottery awards a £1,000 prize each week, as well as a host of other smaller prizes. Subscribers to the weekly Lotto are also eligible to join the Superdraw, with a chance of winning a £25,000 prize.
  • Children had a whale of a time under the sea

    by User Not Found | Jan 19, 2017

    There were mermaids in abundance when Demelza threw a New Year party for its families in South East London with the theme ‘under the sea.’


    Around 130 children and their families packed into the Holiday Inn, Bexley, for a party lunch and afternoon of entertainment.


    Presents donated to Heart FM’s Giving Tree in the run-up to Christmas by generous Bluewater shoppers and gifts purchased were given to the children.


    There was a raffle, tombola, party games and bingo, with entertainment provided by Sarah Blanc – also known as the ‘Tracey and Mavis Bingo Experience’, part of the Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre project. 


    Fantastic fish balloons, dolphins and octopus were kindly donated by Little Bananas, a local balloon and soft play business and Lisa of Taz Party Music provided a fabulous disco.

    Thanks to Albus Environmental who provided all the drinks for the party and to Northern Trust who built and donated two bicycles for our raffles and auction.


    The Eltham party was a chance for Demelza families to show off their creative talents, along with the members of staff and volunteers who turned out to make the day a rip-roaring success, with mermaids, pirates and a whole variety of fish and undersea creatures turning out.

      
    Ann Fagg, Care Services Lead for Demelza SEL, said: “We would like to thank the generosity of our supporters and the volunteers and staff who pulled out all the stops to make sure our children and their siblings had a great time. Part of our work is ensuring families have precious memories to look back on and so the annual party is an important event for us.”

  • Praise for Demelza from CQC

    by User Not Found | Jan 18, 2017

    The strengths of Demelza’s service in South East London have been highlighted in the latest CQC report, just released.

    Inspectors rated the charity in South East London “good” overall and “outstanding” in being responsive to the needs of the child, young person and their family. They found that staff often went beyond the scope of their duties to show that they cared.

    “Children, young people and their families were at the heart of the service and were fully involved in the planning and review of care, treatment and support. Individual needs were met and responded to in a way that may exceed people’s expectations,” says the report.

    Parents too gave Demelza  a resounding thumbs up when quizzed by inspectors from the health watchdog. One parent described Demelza’s hospice as "an amazing place."  Another said: "I can't praise it enough. I feel blessed to have this service."

    Demelza’s six-bed hospice in Eltham has been providing professional, specialist, one-to-one care and support and therapies for children and young people since 2009.

    Beth Ward, Demelza’s Director of Care, said: “We were rated good, with outstanding for responsiveness, because we strive to put children, young people and their families first, with a strong commitment to delivering the best quality care and support. This is an achievement across the whole of Demelza.”

    The CQC report found that children and young people who used Demelza South East London - and their families - received care that was compassionate and kind. People felt the practical and emotional help they were given had an impact on their lives, both during their child's illness and afterwards.

    Health and social care professionals likewise commented on the caring approach of Demelza South East London, with one saying: "We found Demelza to be a compassionate, open and transparent organisation to work with; they put the child and family at the heart of their work."

    You can view the full report by visiting:  http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-119107844

  • Kev is dribbling for Demelza!

    by User Not Found | Jan 11, 2017
     

    A South East London childminder is aiming to smash a world record when he takes part in the London Marathon to raise funds for Demelza.

    Kev Howarth, from Bromley, is a former basketball player who now runs marathons.

    He discovered an American had flown over to break the world record for dribbling two basketballs at the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2015 - and decided he was capable of claiming the title for Britain.


    For the past year, 45-year old Kev has been getting in training, taking part in half marathons both at home and abroad.
      He’s also been keeping his fans and followers informed of his progress on his training blog – kev2balls.blogspot.co.uk


    When he sets out on his 26.2 mile mission, on April 23, Kev will be raising funds for Demelza and the testicular cancer charity Orchid Cancer Care.


    He said: “I raised some money for Demelza a few years ago when I ran my first half marathon, but this is a much bigger challenge.”


    Kev’s wife Tara teaches at Charlton Park Academy, in South East London, which also supports Demelza.


    He said: “I stumbled across an article about the runner who broke the record for the fastest marathon dribbling two basketballs. He did it in 04:10:44.

    “As a former basketball player and current runner, I looked at his time and thought - 'I could do it faster than that!'.  I can't let an American come to my back yard and take all the glory. I intend claiming the record for Britain and sending him packing!”


    Petts Wood Runners have donated one of their marathon places to Kev, who hopes he can complete the marathon in at least 4 hours and five minutes – possibly faster.

    Another Petts Wood Runner Mike Reeves will also be raising money for Demelza in 2017, running in both the London and Brighton marathons with his mod scooter.


    Kev said: “I am very fortunate to be a member of probably the finest, friendliest running club in the world - Petts Wood Runners and am truly grateful and proud to represent the club.”


    “There is a mind-numbing array of very worthy causes to support so I looked at where I could make the most impact. Demelza does a lot of good work for children at my wife's special needs school and I’ve raised money for them once before.”


    Demelza’s Head of Events Emma Middleton said: “We are delighted Kev has chosen to support Demelza in the marathon and will be cheering him on in his bid to break the world record.”

    Read more about Kev and his marathon mission at www.kev2balls.blogspot.co.uk, or follow him on Twitter @Howarthkev or Instagram via #kev2balls.

    To sponsor him visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KevHowarth

  • Party fun for all the family

    by User Not Found | Jan 11, 2017

    A touch of Rio came to Kent when Demelza threw a New Year party for its families.

    More than 250 children and parents packed into the Mercure Great Danes Hotel, Maidstone, for a party lunch and afternoon of entertainment.


    Presents donated to Heart FM’s Giving Tree in the run-up to Christmas by generous Bluewater shoppers and other gifts purchased were given to the children.


    Duncan Doughnut and Reg E. Mental led party games and entertainment, with music provided by the band Cymbolick Penalties.


    With a party theme of ‘Carnival,’ it was a chance for Demelza families to show off their creative talents, along with the members of staff and volunteers who turned out to make the day a rip-roaring success.

      

    Helen Rolls, Care Co-ordinator for Demelza Kent, said: “We would like to thank the generosity of our supporters and the volunteers and staff who pull all the stops out every year to make sure our children and their siblings have a great time.


    “Part of our work is ensuring families have precious memories to look back on and so the annual party is an important event for us.”

     

  • Chart success for the London Hospices Choir

    by User Not Found | Dec 24, 2016

    Twenty seven singers from Demelza along with 17 other hospices formed the London Hospices Choir to release a new version of The Living Years with Paul Carrack. There was stiff competition this year for the official number one spot from the likes of X Factor’s Matt Terry and Rag ‘n’ Bone Man as well as the usual Christmas classics from Wizzard and Mariah Carey. The number one went to Clean Bandit with the Choir reaching number 81 in the official chart, despite being the second highest entry in the charts this week.  

    However, the single did reach NUMBER 1 in the official physical singles chart!

    Money raised will be divided between the 18 hospices involved.

    Music therapist Victoria Swan said: “We have raised so much awareness, and the experience has been a wonderful one. Thank you to all choir members for your hard work, dedication and commitment. I hope you all agree that the early starts, long journeys and many hours out in the cold have been worthwhile for the awareness and funds we have raised, and what an amazing experience we all had.”

  • A celebration of Christmas at Canterbury Cathedral

    by User Not Found | Dec 22, 2016
    Hundreds of families, staff, supporters and volunteers joined VIPs at Canterbury Cathedral for a celebration of Christmas on Monday 20 December.

    The Choir of Canterbury Cathedral led a rousing Carol Concert to mark the start of the festive season along with West Malling Community Choir.

    A highlight of this year’s concert was one of Demelza’s younger children, Hallie, singing the favourite carol ‘Little Donkey,’ accompanied by the charity’s Therapy Services Manager Jane O’Neill on flute.

    Among those reading were The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor George Metcalfe, The Admiral of the Fleet, The Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, Demelza founder president Derek Phillips and Heart FM Drivetime presenter Neil Kefford. Canon Clare Edwards welcomed guests and lit the festive candle.

    Demelza’s Events Co-ordinator Lianne Lloyd said: “Thank you so much to everyone who came to Canterbury Cathedral for our celebration of Christmas. As well as being a great start to your Christmas celebrations you were supporting our work with life-limited and life-threatened children and their families.”
  • What Christmas is like at a children's hospice

    by User Not Found | Dec 22, 2016
    For most of us, Christmas is a time to be with family.

    But as the nation settles down for The Queen’s Speech, vital work continues at Demelza.

    At Demelza Kent nurses will be providing round-the-clock care to seriously babies, children, and young people and their families.

    Debbie McSwiney, Care Services Lead – Kent who is working on Christmas Day said: “Demelza Kent is in full operation Christmas mode the trees and decks are all up and looking stunning, the children’s stocking are hanging up ready for a visit from Santa.

    “Christmas is a very special time for my team and I as we have the pleasure of working and being alongside our families that are with us this Christmas – Demelza care team are ready to make it an extra special this year.”


  • Volunteers needed

    by User Not Found | Dec 19, 2016
    It’s the time of year when people start making New Year resolutions. So why not start the new year by donating some time for your local children’s hospice?

    If you have a few hours to spare in 2017 Demelza is always looking for volunteers to do everything from helping in our charity shops to fundraising to catering.

    Volunteers save Demelza over a £1m a year, giving over 150,000 hours.

    Lynne Clark, Demelza’s Head of Voluntary Services, said: “We are so grateful for our current team of volunteers, 1,000 people of all ages who give up their time to volunteer for Demelza and we are always looking for more people to help us out. Volunteering is a great way to meet others, develop new skills and have fun.”

    Cathy Gundry volunteers on reception at Demelza Kent, also helps out the catering team and at voluntary services and fundraising events. She will also be helping out the care team in the new year.

    She said: “I started volunteering for Demelza eight years ago, and it was the best thing I could have done as I have found myself a valued member of the hospice.

    “I had just retired, and wanted something constructive to do with my time. I found that Demelza could use the experience I had gained through my working life to both their and my advantage. I would recommend volunteering to anybody.”

    To find out more about local volunteering opportunities please email volunteering@demelza.org.uk or click here to see our current vacancies
  • Demelza in bid to become champion of champions

    by User Not Found | Dec 12, 2016
    Demelza scooped a digital award for its new website in the Summer and staff are now hoping for another award, with your help.

    Demelza was victorious at the Kent Digital Awards, winning a gold award in the Website: School, Education or Charity category back in June.

    Judges at the Kent Digital Awards said: "The positive work of this organisation is reflected in a striking tasteful way, by a website that educates and inspires in equal measure. The frequent and engaging blog updates, further add to a superb user experience."

    As a winner Demelza has automatically been put forward into the inaugural, public-voted Digital Awards Champions - a chance to pit the best against the best from all six of the Digital Awards schemes in 2016, in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey.

    We are up against the following organisations in the public vote:
    Alzheimer's Research UK (Cambridgeshire)
    Havering College (Essex)
    Bishop’s Stortford College (Hertfordshire)
    Supershoes by Amasci Creative (Milton Keynes)
    Hemsley Fraser by Lab (Surrey)

    Demelza’s Interim Head of Marketing Gill Kirk-Burgess said: “Our aim was to produce a vibrant, eye catching site which captured what Demelza is all about – life. We were delighted that our site was recognised with a Kent Digital Award, please help Demelza become the champion of champions by voting for us in the Digital Awards Champions. “

    The closing date for votes is 20 January and the winners will be announced at BFI Southbank on 9 February.

    To vote for Demelza go to:  http://thedigitalawards.co/champions/school-education-charity

  • Opportunities for memory making as part of new partnership with theatre company

    by User Not Found | Dec 02, 2016
    Demelza children and families are set to benefit from a partnership with a theatre company

    Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (GLYPT) was awarded £30,000 over three years for a project with Demelza.

    Following the grant from Children and the Arts GLYPT will work with children and families of those supported by Demelza SEL in Eltham.

    A pilot day has already been held where families watched an immersive performance; took part in an interactive workshop involving puppets, storytelling and animation with an underwater theme. The artists and families all ate together and the day ended with everyone performing on stage together with the children using their own puppets that they made during the workshop.

    Demelza Family Support Social Worker Michele King said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting new partnership which will allow our children and families to take part in interactive theatre whatever their ability and build some great memories.”

    Music Therapist Victoria Swan said: “It was so wonderful to see the children and families enjoying a great day of arts and activities. The performance was fantastic, and every member of GLYPT were so sensitive to the children’s needs. They provided a full sensory experience and were so thoughtful.”

    Tony Casement, Associate Artistic Director at the theatre said: “It’s a chance for families to experience some fantastic arts activities and to share some quality time together. It’s all about having fun and making memories together.”
  • £12,000 for sensory garden project after shoppers' vote

    by User Not Found | Dec 02, 2016
    Staff and volunteers at Demelza are celebrating after gaining a £12,000 grant to create a sensory garden.

    The charity was successful in a bid for £8,000 as part of Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative but had a chance to up the money to £10,000 or £12,000 as part of a vote in store.

    Voting ran in three Tesco stores in Sittingbourne and the superstore in Faversham from 31 October to 13 November – with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the check out.

    Demelza got the most number of votes so was successful in gaining the biggest award.
    Work on transforming the green area will now start in January 2017 and aims to be finished in July 2017.

    The sensory garden will see a pond, two bridges, themed plants and decorations to create a Chinese water garden. A pagoda already on site will be refurbished and a burner added with incense, linking to the sensory theme. The pond will link to an enchanted forest area where there will be a woodland house, swamp area, toadstools, sensory lighting as well as some seating areas.

    The £12,000 grant will see Demelza putting up a partition around the new sensory garden to help the children using the area feel more part of the surroundings, disguising neighbouring storage sheds and allotments. Larger plants could be purchased and the gardens used for music and art therapy. A range of additional musical instruments will also be bought.

    Demelza gardener Mark Blackman said: “The Gardening Team at Demelza are absolutely delighted to have been awarded £12,000 by the Groundwork and Tesco's Bags of Help scheme. The grant will allow us to refurbish a large area of the children’s garden that has been inaccessible to our wheelchair users. We can’t wait to create a multi-sensory area that will delight and stimulate the children, young people and families. We hope they are looking forward to spending time together in this new and exciting environment.”

    Gardening Assistant Alison Davies added: “Everyone at Demelza would like to thank the shoppers who voted in the stores, Groundwork and Tesco. Your support will enable us to undertake this project.”

    Lindsey Crompton, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “Bags of Help has been a fantastic success.

    “We been overwhelmed by the response of our customers and it’s been great to give people a say on how the money will be spent in their community. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life.”
  • Demelza kicks off festivities with walk and fair

    by User Not Found | Nov 28, 2016
    More than 300 people attended Demelza's annual Candlelight Walk on Sunday (27 November),

    Thirteen singers from Demelza’s part of the London Hospices Choir sang their version of The Living Years (bidding for Christmas Number 1) and members of Chatham Seventh Adventist Church sang carols and did readings

    There was a festive market, arts and crafts and refreshments for sale and the Mayor of Sittingbourne, Councillor Lesley Ingham judged the best dressed elf competition.

    Father Christmas and his elves met walkers half way around the 2.5k route and there was also a chance to meet the big man himself afterwards in his grotto.

    Head of Events, Emma Middleton said: “Thank you so much to everyone who came to our Candlelight Walk and festive market – we hope it helped put you in the Christmas spirit! It was lovely to see so many people here enjoying the entertainment. See you next year!”