Sebastian's Action Trust
On the 1st of November 2018, two members of the A&GP Marketing department visited Sebastian’s Action Trust at The Woodlands centre in Crowthorne.
Sebastian’s Action Trust was started in 2003, following on from the wishes of one 9-year-old boy. In June 2001, Sebastian Gates was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor, which is a rare form of childhood cancer. Sebastian looked outside the limits of his own diagnosis and expressed his dream; for seriously ill children in the future to have somewhere to go and spend time with their family, away from the stresses of their lives. Unfortunately, Sebastian was unable to see this dream become a reality as he sadly died on Christmas Eve in 2003.
Sebastian’s parents, friends, and local community all came together in his memory to create Sebastian’s Action Trust. It took years of fundraising, but in July 2011, The Bluebells opened. The Bluebells is a purpose-built respite facility, offering families with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions the opportunity to come and stay and get away from the cruelness of life.
The facility is based in Hampshire, but has extended to a national remit, supporting families from across Scotland and Wales, as well as other parts of England. The support offered doesn’t stop at respite breaks; the charity also offers outreach support, activities, events, workshops, finance and welfare support, youth support, bereavement care, counselling and also traditional and complementary therapies.
Following on from the momentous success of The Bluebells, Sebastian’s Action Trust has now opened a new home, The Woodlands, based in Crowthorne. This facility will operate alongside The Bluebells, offering more families the chance for respite and support during difficult times in their lives.
When we visited The Woodlands, we were overwhelmed at the serenity that we felt, almost immediately after arriving. The friendly yet calming atmosphere was contagious, allowing us to feel even a fraction of the relaxation that families visiting could expect. We were welcomed immediately into the cinema room, which offered such a homely feel as we sat and spoke to Lorraine about the facility.
The Woodlands offers counselling and wellbeing suites, a communal room/cinema and a sensory room. Also found on The Woodlands site is Beech Lodge, providing an art room, imaginative play space, music suite, teen den and volunteer’s office.
The initial room which we visited was the sensory room. Walking in, we were met with multiple colourful lights moving across the entirety of the room, a fibre optic sensory corner, sensory bubble water tubes, and musical walls, offering a completely moving experience. Just imagining how a child with sensory problems would enjoy this room was wonderful.
We were then shown the well-being and treatment room, completely kitted out with a massage bed and pamper products. The stresses that parents have to go through can sometimes be forgotten when caring for a seriously ill child, and these stresses can take their toll. Offering a pamper facility for parents means that even for a minute, parents can take a break from their ongoing pressures.
The entirety of both facilities have been finished to an incredibly high standard throughout, allowing families to completely relax and enjoy what both The Bluebells and The Woodland have to offer.
Impact of the Charity
Hearing about the impact that Sebastian’s Action Trust has had on suffering families is so inspiring. From a recent survey which the charity carried out, 93% of respondents reported that their lives have dramatically improved as a result of accessing support, with a further 80% having improved their resilience and coping strategies following the charity’s support. Sebastian’s Action Trust has improved economic situations of 98% of families surveyed, due to the finance and welfare support offered. This all shows just how advantageous the actions of this charity are, helping change the lives of many families across the UK.
We are all able to help Sebastian’s Action Trust even in a small part this Christmas. If we all donate one extra present, we can put a smile on a child's face this Christmas. If you are planning to donate, please make sure that you get a gift to the Marketing department before the 23rd of November. Please write on the tag the age range of the item, so that they can ensure that every child will get a gift relevant to them.
We have also been sent a Christmas Hamper by the charity, which for £2 you can buy a ticket to be in with a chance of winning. All funds raised are going to the charity, allowing us to do our bit this Christmas. If you would like to buy a ticket, get in touch with the Marketing department.
Our Relationship Going Forward
Sebastian’s Action Trust also offers the opportunity for corporate volunteering which is something that AGP are keen to get involved in. We can volunteer as much or as little as we would like throughout the year, but any help we can provide is welcomed. Volunteers gave 10,855.3 hours of their time last year, which is worth £108,533 to the Trust. To be able to supply a small part of that time would be a huge help to the charity.
Visiting The Woodlands has made us think about and appreciate how lucky we are in life. Obviously not everyone has been so lucky, and it is important to take a moment to think about all the lives that Sebastian’s Action Trust has supported, and heart wrenchingly lost over the years. They go by the saying ‘we can’t add days to lives, but we can, and do, add life to days’ which I believe is a strong mantra and something we should all apply to our own lives.
If you would like to learn more about Sebastian’s Action Trust, visit their website today and hear more about what the charity has to offer.