About us and why we started
At The Lewis Foundation we source, package and hand deliver gift packs for free to adult cancer patients in hospitals in the East Midlands and the community weekly. These are items that patients might find difficult to buy themselves or simply cannot afford – and that brings people happiness and comfort at a difficult time. For many people in hospital and the community, our volunteers are their only regular visitors.
Lorraine and Lee (charity founders) were so moved when Lee's mum was hospitalised with cancer at Northampton General Hospital that it led them to set up a charity. Recognising the fear, upset and loneliness faced by individuals undergoing cancer treatment and their loved ones, they were determined that their charity would make a real difference. They sourced donations, packaged, and delivered gifts for patients on oncology wards. That was April 2016 – when The Lewis Foundation was born. Today with a team of 50 community volunteers (70% being their beneficiaries) and community supporters, The Lewis Foundation has grown from delivering 80 gift packs to one hospital, to delivering over 2,500 to nine hospitals in the Midlands per month. They are Milton Keynes University Hospital, Northampton General Hospital, BMI Three Shires – Northampton, Bedford Hospital, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Luton & Dunstable Hospital, Nottingham University Hospital, Queens Medical Centre - Nottingham and Kettering General Hospital.
How it works in the hospital, is that patients pick a gift pack of their choice from our gift trolley and there are 32 different packs to pick from. Packs range from toiletries, puzzle books and miniature radios. Once the gift is received, we then spend time with people to reduce loneliness.
Our charity since the coronavirus pandemic.
Adults are having to go through cancer treatment alone during this challenging period of self-distancing, and that’s why it’s more important than ever for us to continue to deliver our free gifts and support packs to patients in hospitals and the community.
The whole reason we started The Lewis Foundation four years ago was because we wanted to make a real difference. It can be a sad, frightening, and lonely experience for individuals undergoing cancer treatment, especially during this pandemic when their loved ones can’t be with them.
Like all charities, we have had to adapt our processes. We can no longer host our weekly packing sessions, so a small number of volunteers now pack gift bags in their own homes which are then collected to be delivered. We’ve also created alternative drop off points to minimise social contact and have been working very closely with all our hospitals to adjust the way we deliver the support packs to the wards. The hospital staff now kindly hand them out for us and we have been giving them care packages to for the amazing work they do.
We have also been making up emergency packs for cancer patients who are self-isolating in the community, which we have never done before.
We have received lots of messages from people during the Covid-19 outbreak – here are a few:
“Can I thank you so much for my gift. You are so kind and thoughtful. I have got such dry skin at the moment and the Aveeno spray and body wash (which I have run out of), has made my skin feel normal again. My skin was so sore because I was using soap. I have already started using the colouring book. It is so lovely to have something else to do besides watching TV. The gift box of cream and lip balm has made me feel lovely. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. I have been feeling a bit low this last week and today. You have really made me smile again and cheered me up so much."
"I just wanted to email and thank you so much for the parcel which arrived so unexpectedly last week .I was feeling really low , and your amazing gift bag arrived two days before I started my radiotherapy treatment. My niece had nominated me, and I can’t tell you how it cheered me up. It’s been a difficult time for everyone but self-isolating alone since March 11th has been extra challenging.
Your charity has certainly helped me, how lovely to know that someone cares enough to try and make the lives of people who are going through the worst time, a little better."
During this period we have been recognised for our work and have received the following awards:
Prime Minister's Point of Light Award - https://www.pointsoflight.gov.uk/the-lewis-foundation/
The Independent's Happy List 2020 - https://www.independent.co.uk/happylist/happy-list-2020-coronavirus-heroes-in-a-crisis-pandemic-response-a9583981.html
Acquisition International 2020 Global Excellence Award - Best Not -Profit Cancer Organisation 2020
The main hit we have taken is generating the funds we need to be able to do our charity work. Before Covid-19 we relied on fundraising and donations. We do not receive any government and grant funding for what we do. We immediately found overnight our main source of income was gone. So, for us to receive support from Aviva would enable us to continue our work to support people going so that we don't run out of our reserve funds and have to stop our services. The demand has increased and people need our service more than ever.
You can watch the impact of what we do below and why it is so important: