Charity Spotlight: Marie Curie

Each month, we highlight a charity that is working to make our communities better. This month we talk to Marie Curie, who provide support and care for people with terminal illness and their families. Today marks the start of the Great Daffodil Appeal, their biggest annual event to raise money to fund the 2,000 Marie Curie nurses who provide in-home care across the UK. We asked Marie Curie about their work to ensure end-of-life care and the process of dying isn’t one those with terminal illnesses and their families go through alone.

Tell us about Marie Curie.

Marie Curie is here for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. Our nurses work night and day, caring for people in their homes and in our nine hospices. We also support people throughout their illness by giving practical information, support from trained volunteers and being there when someone wants to talk. Mary Riley, who has been a Marie Curie nurse for more than 20 years, says, “Working for Marie Curie has honestly been the happiest time of my life. You meet so many fantastic people, trying to cope with so much. They really appreciate you and the help you can bring.”

Founded in 1948 (you can read a full account of our history here), we are inspired by the work of scientist Marie Curie and in the last year have supported over 40,000 terminally ill people and their families—free of charge. This care often comes around £500 cheaper than social and government-funded care. The 2,000 Marie Curie nurses provide end-of-life care to 94 percent of the UK population—the goal is to make this 100 percent—through either home care or hospice care.

As well as offering actual care to people with terminal illness, Marie Curie also provide advice ranging from managing pain to dealing with weight change, from how to keep up energy with the correct diet to advice on rehoming your pet. We also provide guides to people who are impacted by the death of a family member, including coping with loss, potential physical symptoms of grief and breaking the news to children. The majority of the advice comes from both the experiences of the nurses themselves, as well as the scientific research carried out by Marie Curie. Between 2014 and 2015 Marie Curie published 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals on palliative and end-of-life care, collaborating with different bodies and researchers in 37 countries around the world.

What are your funding sources?

Funding relies heavily on volunteers willing to get out into the local area and raise funds for us in public—whether it be people like Paula Bruntlett, who has been fundraising for 22 years, or those who use our online fundraising guides to put together their own event.

We also raise money through our online shop, which often has seasonal bits within it, like Mother’s Day Cards. Additionally, we have things like wedding favours, jewellery and so on.

There is also a range of trustees and patrons from all walks of life who have a large hand in the efforts made to raise cash for nursing care.

What obstacles does your organisation face?

The biggest obstacle we face is maintaining funding. We’ve seen growth in the most recent years, and now we are able to provide terminal-illness care to 94 percent of the UK, but there is a final 6 percent of those affected by terminal illness who are going without the care they need.

Beyond this, a growing population—particularly around London—means our nurses and hospices (much like the NHS) are seeing an increased level of need for services. Greater funding will allow us to continue to provide end-of-life care to this increasing population.

Do you hold fundraising events throughout the year?

The daffodil campaign is the biggest event we hold each year—this spans everything from Premier League managers raising awareness by wearing pins throughout March, to people in and around London raising money by holding daffodil-themed events.

Throughout the year our volunteers are always involved with things like the upcoming London Marathon (and other UK sporting events), our hospices will attend or hold seasonal events (Christmas bazaars and so on) and we have a number of local fundraising groups that are out in their respective communities 24/7 collecting and flying the Marie Curie flag.

How can people get involved?

There are many ways people can get involved with Marie Curie fundraising, from holding events to signing up to collect money for the cause. Volunteers can be seen on the street with yellow buckets having fun—they might also be dressed as some kind of superhero! Fundraising groups in particular can be found at most local events with raffles, cake stalls and pop-up shops.

Bake sales or tea parties are great crowd pleasers, as well as dinner parties with groups of friends for people considering an event, and we also have our fundraising packs that include face-painting guides and printable bunting. You can take a quiz on our website to find out what type of fundraiser you are! And of course people can also donate directly on site.

You can also become a volunteer helper, providing support and companionship to those with a terminal illness. Find out more about Marie Curie Helpers here.

For more information about the work of Marie Curie and the Great Daffodil Appeal, visit their website.

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