Throughout the year, ACT supports the people, causes and communities that matter to Ardonagh colleagues through our Community Grant programme – which provides the opportunity for colleagues across the Group to apply for up to £5,000 (or equivalent currency) towards a chosen charity.
Last year, ACT provided more than £155,000 in grants to causes put forward by our people. In 2023, we’re well on track to give back even more, with our current total donated through ACT grants standing at over £150,000.
Today, we share the ten charities, which stretch across the world from Brazil to Australia, being supported by ACT’s third round of grants for this year.
Read the stories behind each of the projects that have successfully received funding and why our colleagues nominated them.
Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity has sat at the heart of Scotland's busiest and largest children's hospital since 2001 supporting the extraordinary work that takes place at the Royal Hospital for Children – supporting over 200,00 babies, children, young people and their families who enter through the hospital’s doors each year.
Part of the hospital’s services is the care of premature babies. When babies born early are within incubators, they are often not handled as this can affect their recovery. This means mum and dad are unable to have precious cuddles that help with the parent and baby bonding process, which is extremely important especially at this very early stage of their lives.
Each year approximately 410 premature babies come in the neonatal unit and the department has been using special blankets, called miniboos, to provide an alternative way to develop the baby-parent bond. The miniboo blankets are first kept close to the mother, before being placed with the baby, where the blanket calms the newborn. Longer term, the familiar scent supports the introduction of breast feeding and bonding once the baby is able to spend time out of their incubator. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund 820 miniboos, enough to support families and their babies for an entire year.
Muscular Dystrophy Ireland (MDI) supports people across Ireland who are affected by neuromuscular disorders, including muscular dystrophy and many more. The charity promoted ‘positive living’ by supporting practical empowerment and independent living for people with the conditions.
As part of this agenda, MDI have their own ‘Home from home’ apartment – a self-catering apartment in Dublin, which is fully accessible for those with wheelchairs, shower chairs, and electric beds. The apartment helps those with MD and their families to have short breaks in a supportive space where they can enjoy Dublin from.
Now, the charity plan to use this space to lead a new Living Well-Living Independent course, which equips young people aged 16-26 with tools and advice to navigate living with a neuromuscular condition. Through a series of six carefully crafted modules, participants will master crucial skills spanning home management, personal care, healthy lifestyles, independent travel, smart technology (e.g. assistive technology and tools) – all delivered at MDI’s fully accessible centre by an expert trainer. Thanks to a grant of £5,000 from ACT, the course will become a reality, which aims to reach 100 people annually once up and running.
Win The Day Trust supports children and families across Australia affected by childhood cancer. The charity is special to the Resilium team, as it has been a huge source of support to colleague Luke Hawks, whose son was diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Luke and his family had to re-locate three times during his son’s treatment, and Win The Day provided vital support throughout and since then the wider Resilium team have raised over $46,000 in aid of the charity.
The Trust’s support helps families practically and emotionally through their journey. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund support packages for three families helped by Win the Day. Each family will benefit from counselling, grants to help transport and accommodation to medical facilities, meal packages for a carer, experiences to strengthen family unity and a welcome pack to help understanding of oncology.
Crescer Bem (which means ‘Caring Well’) supports children and their families inside and outside the hospital environment at Hospital de Dona Estefânia in Lisbon (and more widely with other hospitals in the district), who are in situations of social risk.
The charity has a number of social projects to achieve their mission to make sure children can grow up with dignity, including a solidarity pantry providing food hampers, a solidarity laundry which families can use free of charge, a solidarity pharmacy to subsidise medication and projects to help children with their education and even breakfast in hospital.
The £5,000 grant from ACT will support Crescer Bem’s work across a number of areas. Half the funds will be dedicated to oral hygiene and ophthalmology appointments – providing 60 consultations for families who otherwise can’t afford them. The other half of the funds will be used to fund medication for families in need, to provide formulated milks for young children referred to Crescer Bem by the Dona Estefânia Hospital, and to provide glasses to children.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was only 15 years old when she died in 2016 on a flight after eating a baguette from a café which had sesame seeds in it but was not labelled as so. Thanks to the tireless work of the Natasha Foundation, set up by her family in her name, it is now a legal requirement to have allergens clearly listed on packaging – known as ‘Natasha’s Law’.
Over the past few years, the foundation has spearheaded one of the largest allergy clinical trials to date and even organised a landmark ‘Global Allergy Symposium’ last year in Scotland, attended by the then Prince Charles and allergy specialists from around the world. With an annual increase of 5% in the number of people with allergies in the UK, it’s estimated that by 2060 70% of the population could be affected.
The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund ten bursaries for healthcare professional pursuing research into allergies and their treatment in children. The PhD bursaries are available to students studying at the University of Southampton’s internationally recognized allergy centre. The MSc bursaries are available to healthcare professionals at any point in their career, to enable them to enrol into qualifications connected to allergy. So far, the foundation has supported 65 people with bursaries.
The mission of the association Agregar (Escolinha de Rugby de São João da Talha) is to support the social integration – using rugby to support children who come from a vulnerable family or community. Rugby provides a language of motivation, which helps children in ways beyond sporting objectives and the association also provides food support and other support to help them excel.
The £5,000 grant from ACT will be used to create a multipurpose room at the club which will provide a space for study and socialising. The room will include a book library and toys, to establish an area for educational and recreational activities – and to encourage new children to join the club.
South Northants Community Responders is run entirely by highly trained volunteers, who provide care in in response to time-critical emergencies. The charity has over 50 people who provide this critical service in and around Northamptonshire, which is particularly vital in rural communities further away from hospitals.
The charity are currently rolling out a project to ensure each volunteer responder has a body-worn camera. This is now common practice across paramedics and ambulance staff in the NHS, and similarly the community responders aim to do the same to look after their volunteers, which is a top priority. The £5,000 grant from ACT will fund 16 body cameras, making a significant contribution to the charity’s total target.
INACRE is a non-profit based in Rio de Janeiro which help children and young people with special needs to access essential support, medication, food and hygiene products – aiding both the children themselves and their families. MDS Brazil colleague, Fabio, has regularly visited the charity and has seen the impact of the work it does to help disadvantaged families in the short and longer term.
The £5,000 grant from ACT will be broken down across the charity’s three core project areas, encompassing food packages, medication and hygiene products. The provision of nutritious meals, medical assistance, and products ranging from toiletries to sanitary items make a huge difference to empower the children and their families.
Pix Gymnastics is a hugely popular youth gymnastics club based in Hertfordshire in the UK. Up to now, the club has been utilising a local school to hold their classes for young people, including a newly launched class specially for children with special education needs (SEN). However, they now need to move home as they can no longer store their apparatus in the school.
Pix is so popular in fact that despite 200 young people currently in attendance, the club has a waitlist of over 250 children! To enable the club to continue, and to provide larger and more frequent sessions, Pix are planning to move to a dedicated premises. Already, the club has raised over £4,000 and the £5,000 grant from ACT will take them to closer to their target figure of £10,000 so that they can move to a new space.
The social initiative ‘SÓ VAMOS’ began in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. At that time, the homeless population, already socially vulnerable, were hugely affected by the lockdown, as they did not have housing to shelter and protect themselves from the virus and found it much harder to obtain food donations from the public.
Since then, the charity has continued in full force – serving a total of more than 115,000 meals to people in need in Rio de Janeiro. Currently, So Vamos serves over 3,500 meals a month and in the first half of 2023 alone, 700 food baskets were delivered to vulnerable families. The £4,200 grant from ACT will fund a month of meals, alongside water, hygiene kits and food baskets.
Learn more about ACT's work and impact to date by visiting the Community Grant page on the ACT website and follow us on our Instagram and Facebook @ArdonaghCT.