Monday, 1 June 2015

Beci's Big Brew 2015


Having been a Volunteer Supporter for Pregnancy Sickness Support for a couple of years I decided that this year I would do my bit of fundraising for them and hold a Big Brew on 16th May. I created an event on Facebook, promised my friends as much cake as they could eat in 3 hours and started begging anyone I knew who owned a business for raffle prizes!



My mum suggested the raffle as an extra way to raise money. I ended up with some lovely prizes including a month’s worth of Zumba vouchers, handmade fudge voucher (thank you Sam Sorrell), free entry into a local National Trust property, an Avon giftset and a massage gift voucher (thank you Lois Slocombe). A friend of mine who runs a greetings card business also came along and offered to donate 10% of money taken to PSS.


The day before my Big Brew, HG Awareness Day, my mother in law kindly offered to take my ‘helpful’ 3 year old off my hands for the day. How I would have been ready with her around I simply don’t know! The whole day was spent baking and cleaning, interspersed with spamming social media with HG awareness posts and a mad dash round all my local supermarkets to find one ingredient I needed for one of my cakes (how hard can poppy seeds be to find, turns out very!). I baked a hazelnut, pear and dark chocolate cake, a coconut cake and a citrus poppy seed cake. I’m not much of a baker so was exceptionally proud of myself but must admit I cheated and bought scones! A friend of mine who also suffered with HG made some delicious rainbow cupcakes decorated in PSS colours for which I’ll be eternally grateful!




Happily on the day of my event the sun was shining and we were all able to go out in the garden and enjoy it! I was so touched by how many of my family and friends turned out to support a cause so close to my heart. Even those that couldn’t make it generously donated or bought raffle tickets. I was also so pleased to hear how many conversations were going on about HG, so as well as raising money it has helped inform people too.



I had always said that I would be happy to raise around £100 so when I added up the money and found we made £197.70 I was over the moon! I really enjoyed hosting a Big Brew and will definitely be doing it again next year!


Monday, 22 December 2014

2014 – What a Year!

Our dedicated volunteers have worked so hard this year to raise funds for our work, increased awareness of hyperemesis and above all supported woman at their most desperate and difficult times... And many of them will continue to dedicate their time and energy to ensure sufferers do not feel even more alone on Christmas day. It's a day which many women report increases the feelings of isolation and being misunderstood as they are surrounded by loved ones who don't understand and smells of food which make the whole thing worse. Our volunteers have been there and they understand.

It's been an incredible year of media attention and award nominations bringing Hyperemesis Gravidarum into the spotlight and raising awareness about it's severity. Our volunteer network has supported nearly 300 women. The helpline and email support has helped hundreds more and the forum is providing support to well over 1,000 women!

On top of support we have worked hard to raise the profile of services such as IV at Home and IV Day Clinics and encouraged more and more hospital trusts to improve their services and guidelines. We've collaborated on research and developed partnerships with other key organisations. 2015 will see more and more of this progress with Greentop Guidelines coming out, our Healthcare Professional Conference in May and further growth of the Support Network.

To finish off 2014 and to honour the work of our volunteers, here is some of the feedback we've received from the women they have supported this year...

[My Volunteer] was amazing. We texted all the way through my pregnancy. She was an amazing support. My pregnancy was truly hellish; and she was the only one who I could speak to that really understood.”

Invaluable text support in my darkest hours during my pregnancy. Information about her personal experience which helped me significantly and just someone on the other end of the phone that knew what I was going through.”

[My volunteer] maybe didn't know at the time how much a text once per day simply asking "how are you feeling today" helped me so much. I'm not sure if I could describe it enough in words how much [My Volunteer] was supporting me, and how much it meant to me. It was like she was my walking stick when I needed to get up and walk/ shower, and my pillow when I needed to rest. We had all of our contact over text, and when I started to feel better around week 20 - I asked if we could have a call as I wanted to thank her from the bottom of my heart. She still texts me every so often to check in and ask me how I'm doing, and its as if she is just as excited as me for my little ones arrival next year. I'm so grateful for PSS and [My Volunteer's] support.”

When we spoke it was as if she was there by my side, fighting for my cause. I felt very weak and unsure what was happening at the time and felt such a sense of relief that she, and PSS were there to support me. Fantastic charity, and people who work for PSS.”

She's been amazing! She's helped me at my lowest with HG & as I had 2 previous losses, she's been there as an emotional support when I've been petrified I'd lose again!”

She [my volunteer] is amazing and really helped me over come many fears with her encouragement. She has been an angel.”

I didn't feel alone in my experience and suffering anymore and realised the sickness wasn't due to doing something wrong or not being strong enough”

THANK YOU! We have a beautiful healthy baby girl.”

This is a lifesaver of a charity.”



To all our dedicated volunteers, all the women suffering at the moment and all our supporters around the globe, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year...


...And lets all work together to make 2015 even more spectacular!


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fundraising Ideas - How can YOU help?

As we've previously mentioned here on the blog, we desperately need funds to continue providing support services and to develop our work even further. However we currently receive no external funding and so we rely entirely on donations.

Over the past couple of years we have seen an increase in donations, which has enabled us to develop our Support Network thus far, and we would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to raise funds for us. As one of our volunteers wrote in a recent guest post, every little bit helps and it doesn't take much to make a real difference, if everyone gets involved!

But we know it can be difficult sometimes to know just how you can help. What can you do that will make a difference? How can you fit it in around increasingly busy lives, around work and family commitments, and during a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet themselves?

Well, the answer is that there is a lot you can do. And most of it is really easy too. We've compiled a list of some of our favourites, which we hope get you started!

So how can you help?

  • Consider setting up a monthly donation to PSS via direct debit. You can do this easily via Virgin Give Money. It does not have to be much – just £3 per month (the cost of a cup of coffee and a cake) will go a long way! In fact since we discussed this at our annual conference earlier this month, PSS has increased its monthly donations by £45 thanks to a handful of delegates setting up monthly donations. 
  • When shopping online, try and use systems such as Easy Fundraising  and Give as You Live . These systems are so easy to use and do not cost you a penny! You simply sign up, choose PSS as your charity, and download a little widget. Every time you shop online at a participating store (you’ll be surprised at how many stores are involved in this), it will ask you if you wish to turn donations on… if you click yes, the store will donate a percentage of your total spend with them to PSS. This percentage varies between stores, most give around 1.5-2% but some give up to a staggering 8-15% and all at no extra cost to you!
  • If you attend any local groups, or know of any independent local businesses, ask if they would be willing to have a donation pot for PSS. This means that when people visit and see the pot they may consider giving some of their spare change to charity. A local maternity clinic or ward may also consider having a donation pot.
  • If you work, find out whether your employer would allow you to hold a fundraising event for PSS. Earlier this month we received over £600 from Home Loan Management in Skipton that was raised during such a fundraising drive. Many employers will also consider “match funding”, which means they will match whatever you raise, thereby doubling your donation. Large organisations such as supermarkets also often have fundraising initiatives that their employees can take part in, so it is always worth checking with your employer if there are opportunities available.
  • Consider getting the whole family involved in some form of sponsorship. We’ve had supporters complete sponsored runs and walks, but we haven’t really seen many HG survivors (as in the children) taking part. People are often very generous when children decide to do a sponsored activity for charity, and so you could do a sponsored toddle with preschool aged children (perhaps with a local parents group) or a sponsored bike ride with older children who have just learned to ride unaided. We even know of someone whose 4 year old did his own “mini triathlon” last year for Sports Relief.
  • Make the most of seasonal events… Christmas is coming up and that can be a great opportunity for fundraising ideas. You could hold a craft stall with Christmas gifts. Or if you don’t want to send Christmas cards this year, why not donate the money you would have spent on them to PSS – quite a few people choose to do this, it seems. Another fantastic idea was suggested at the conference by one of our delegates – why not set up a stand somewhere and offer to wrap Christmas presents for people in return for donations. It’s easy to come by cheap (or free) wrapping supplies – a lot of people have some leftovers they would be willing to donate or shops may donate some for a good cause. And with increasingly busy lives, a lot of people would happily pay a donation to get their gifts wrapped for them, saving them time in the run up to Christmas. Finding a place to do this may be difficult, but a local church hall or a drop off and pick up point at your child’s school or nursery may be an option too. 
This list is far from exhaustive and there are plenty more ideas out there that you could use to fundraise for us. Why not see what other people are doing and see if it's something you'd like to try too?

As we've said before, every little bit really does help and we are grateful for each and every donation, no matter how small. And if you're planning a fundraising event, do let us know, as we can showcase it here on the blog for you.

Happy Fundraising!





Thursday, 16 October 2014

My Two Cents by Kerry Dungay

On the 9th October 2014, I trundled along to Birmingham for the Pregnancy Sickness Support annual Conference.  I suffered badly with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) with both my babies but that seems like a long time ago now, and with limited time and money I wasn’t sure what I could offer or how the conference would be relevant to me at this moment. 
Pregnancy Sickness Support Conference 2014
Hands down it was the best decision I made this year.  Some of the stories from other women broke my heart and were hard to listen to.  The consequences of this illness are far reaching with the worse consequences being pretty much the worst you can think of.  I have reflected on so many things these ladies have said, mostly how if you took pregnancy out of the equation, this illness would attract so much more attention.  This seems absolutely ludicrous to me as surely the life of an unborn baby and the suffering of a human being should be forefront of everyone’s mind.  The judgement, the stigma, the absolute devastation on lives, how is it in 2014 this is happening!
Today I made two decisions.  Today I set up a monthly payment to PSS.  Today I am going think about how I can apply my skills – if not time to this cause.  This charity wasn’t around when I had HG and so I never actually received the amazing support it offers   there is also the fact I will never need it in the future as we have had to make the decision not to have any more children.  So why am I doing this?
I am doing this because I don’t want to hear any more stories of women going through the isolation and suffering I went through, because we obviously have so much left to do to give the illness a different face.  Let’s consider the facts:
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support is driving the potential for change for pregnant women with HG worldwide
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support is pushed to capacity
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support has a support model which is unlike any other support system for women with HG anywhere in world. It is truly pioneering.
-          Pregnancy Sickness Support and it's partner organisations are leading the way in research, which could impact on women and unborn babies throughout the world
-          Because of Pregnancy Sickness Support there are women that now have their babies in their arms instead of mourning a loss
The biggest reason why I and all of us should continue to support the work is because if we went through Hyperemesis Gravidarum then it is likely our daughters and granddaughters are doomed to suffer the same fate.  What a devastating thought.  Think about your children now – don’t you wish you could take on every single little piece of suffering for them?  From a sore tooth, to a fever you’d do it in a heartbeat.  Think about years from now having to watch them go through the same as us and knowing there is little we could do.  What if by investing today we can produce a cure - that this is not the future that is in store for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters and friends?
My two HG survivors!
 
What I am trying to say is that by giving a little, whatever you are able, you are changing a lot.  If every person who liked the PSS Facebook page gave £3 a month, that’s the price of a coffee, that would total £104,868 a year - enough to run, grow and develop the entire support network without any other external support – that would effectively enable PSS to provide one-to-one support to every single women in the UK who sufferers HG.
If all those who have received support in the past gave £3 a month that would total over £18,000 a year – enough to further the capacity for research.
And what if the family and friends of those all donated a regular amount each month or a one off payment – I don’t want to labour the point but you get the gist.
I don’t want to sound preachy and talking about money is never easy for a charity and I know there are those can afford nothing, but the issue of funding is a MASSIVE one and has to be addressed. 
Without funding what would happen to the current structure?  The way the charity is currently run is very effective for those it provides support for but is unsustainable.  In a sentence – it can not continue in this way.  Services would be scaled back, one on one support would go, the plans for research would not be realised and the face of HG will remain unchanged.
I am doing this today because it is so easy to put things off until tomorrow and then it gets forgotten along with good intentions.  As Emma Watson so eloquently said in her speech recently ‘if not now, when?’   


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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I didn't suffer, but I get it – by Angela Warwick

I have four children ranging from 10-22 years old and I was lucky to never suffer more than a whiff of nausea in a couple of my pregnancies. But my friend Caitlin did... man, did she suffer! She was sick all the time and we just didn't see her for the long nine months that she went through three times to get her gorgeous kids. She was a completely unrecognisable person while she was pregnant, mainly she was bloody miserable to be honest and that's not like her at all.

Since her last pregnancy I've watched how she has turned the condition on it's head and worked her socks off to improve care and treatment for other women. We hang out a lot and our weekend plans to chill on the beach or camp with the kids are frequently interrupted by desperate calls to women in terrible conditions. And I see how affected by them she is. She'll get off the phone ranting and raving like a loon about how the ignorant doctors took the poor women off her life saving medication or how this poor women wants her baby so much yet sees no option but to terminate as her doctors refuse even the most basic of medications. And then I hear about the information she's given them and the plan they have made and I see her get her laptop out to match them with a suffers. Wine O'Clock can't start until the volunteer has had a handover and she's let the sufferer know help is coming.  

I also hear about the financial situation of this priceless charity. I know that Caitlin doesn't see a penny for the hard work she puts in and in fact she has raised thousands of pounds herself just to make sure these women don't suffer alone... like she did. We've spend evenings brainstorming ideas for the charity's development and how to change the stigma around the condition but there is always the same sticking point... money. Or rather, the glaring lack of money!



So, I'm going to do my bit! I'm doing a triathlon in September and I want to raise sponsorship for Pregnancy Sickness Support. Triathlons are pretty hard core and it's only my second ever one, but they are nothing compared to surviving a pregnancy with hyperemesis gravidarum... the women who do that are truly hard core, and I'll be thinking of them while I swim, run and cycle my way round St Ives. 

If you would like to show your support and sponsor me you can click here to get to my Virgin Money Page.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nicola and Gary Leap 4 HG!

On Sunday 24th August Nicola Lennon and her partner Gary bravely took a leap 4 HG and skydived at the Black Knights Parachute Centre, Lancaster in aid of PSS and the HER Foundation! Pictures at the end of this post!


Nicola is mum to her two boys and proudly states that “jumping out of a plane is easy compared what I endured with my HG pregnancies... I wanted to show my support and awareness for HG women and help out the HER Foundation who was such a great support for me during my pregnancies. This is my way of saying thank you to HER and letting HG moms know that HG gave me a new perspective on life, take nothing for granted and enjoy each day!”  Read Nicola's HG story.


Nicola has set up a donation page for her jump and all proceeds will benefit Pregnancy Sickness Support and the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation in the USA.  So far they have raised a whopping £290 but there is plenty of space for more!  Please donate to show your support -  http://www.gofundme.com/aew3kc





Raising Awareness!

Walking to the plane...

Gary boarding the plane
 






Well done Nicola!


Well done Gary!







 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Nothing Seems Hard After Hyperemesis Gravidarum By Abi Briggs


 
100 days ago I gave birth to my second hyperemesis baby and I felt well for the first time in a long time. I have now lived, or rather I have survived, through a total of 546 days of pregnancy.

During that time I .....

·         Felt nauseous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

·         Spat around 450,000 times due to ptyalism (disgusting but true)

·         Vomited around 2,500 times

·         Needed over 1,000 injections of anti-sickness medication (my poor bottom)

·         Required more than 30 hospital visits

·         Had 5 extra scans to ensure my babies were still growing (one wasn't)

·         Had 1 husband lose 1 job because of my hyperemesis gravidarum

·         Swallowed a lot of pills

·         Cried a lot of tears

·         Thought a few suicidal thoughts

·         And of course had countless IV cannulas and bags of fluid (I can't work that one out because my brain is hurting now)
 
So if I could do all that just to get my precious babies, could you spare a measly £3, or whatever you can afford, to sponsor me to run 10 kilometres and help Pregnancy Sickness Support (Hyperemesis) UK support other women with hyperemesis?
 
Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) were a lifeline for me and my family when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2011 and again with my son in 2013. They were always there to offer support, specialist knowledge and encouragement and if it wasn't for the work of this amazing charity them I might not now have my two beautiful children. Even as a midwife I found it incredibly hard to advocate for myself and access the live saving treatment I needed. Many women simply don't know where to turn or how to access help and suffer needlessly as a result.
 
It costs £50 just to match a woman with HG with a trained volunteer and that doesn't include the day to day running costs of the charity. Without much needed donations from the public PSS might not be able to carry on with this valuable work, so I'm running a 10K in September to try to give a tiny bit back of what they gave me. Please give whatever you can, I promise it will do so much to help a woman in need. You can donate via my BT MyDonate page, thank you.