WHEN Rachel Ollerenshaw collected the keys for an office building in Warwick, it unlocked a whole new chapter for her charity.
The first dedicated HQ for Molly Olly’s Wishes, has opened its doors just weeks before Rachel’s late daughter – and inspiration behind the charity – would have turned 18.
Molly died in June 2011 after a five-year battle with a rare kidney cancer. What followed, in Molly’s memory, has resulted in support for thousands of children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses.
The charity has so far raised more than £2.5million and helped more than 15,000 children by granting individual wishes.
The new premises will help futureproof the work of the team as they continue to navigate their way through a climate of uncertainty.
Rachel said: “We talked about doing this before the virus was even heard of. It was a worry with what has happened but actually it’s proven to be really important that we had office space which has given us an opportunity and a way forward so we can work safely.
“The team really like it and it’s great for them to have space to work properly rather than being cramped on my kitchen table or squeezed into my office at home.
“This space makes us more accessible to people who can knock the door and come in and ask us what we do and that’s really important. People were probably afraid to knock on my front door at home.
“Warwick is a hugely significant town for us. It is our local town and where many retailers and people know us and to have a presence in the town is important. Because we have been based at my house and haven’t had a big sign outside a lot of people don’t know we exist, so to get that high street presence will help awareness.”
It comes at a crucial time for the small charity which, like many others, is feeling the impact of covid-19. The charity predicts a loss of around £250,000 including from its biggest event of the year, the Molly Olly Ball, in November.
This has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of wishes the charity normally provides to children. The nature of the requests has shifted from days out and experiences to gifts and household equipment.
Rachel added: “We have also worked with families where both parents have been made redundant a lot of the requests we receive are for necessities. For those struggling financially wishes can be for items such as a bed for sick child or supermarket vouchers to help buy food.”
“The families are scared and anxious and it has put more pressure on them and the health professionals and a lot of the organisations we work with have had to work virtually so we’ve seen big changes in how our families are supported.”
Rachel says the charity is looking at different ways to encourage donations from supporters: “What would really help us is if people would sign up to a donation. If the people who usually come to our events and spend £85 on ball tickets, for instance, could maybe commit to spending £5 or more a month and donate regularly, that would make a huge difference to us.”
As Rachel does her best to plan the unknown road ahead, there is no time to really take stock and celebrate the latest milestone.
“This is a real milestone but it’s a journey we’ve all done together” she said. “If ever you have any moments of doubt, you then receive a phone call and you know why you’re here and it takes you right back to where we were and why it all started. Yes, we’re proud but the key thing is we want to carry on doing it and continue to grow and help as many families as possible.”
Those who would like to help can email [email protected] or visit www.mollyolly.co.uk for information or to make a donation.