Good feel causes
Being able to contribute to others is increasingly being recognised as a powerful way of feeling better about ourselves. Lots of wards generously take part in all sorts of fund-raising, and awareness-raising, activities and these can be some of the most fun, satisfying and bonding days of the year for patients and staff. Being involved with good causes is a powerful route to feeling good.
Staff and patients usually have strong views about which charities they’d like to support. This can be a little contentious, especially for people that feel a strong personal connection with a particular charity or cause through direct experience. But that just requires everyone to exercise their non-judgemental and compromise muscles rather than avoid fund-raising. A mix of charities across the year can work well, contributing to causes close to the hearts of as many people as possible. Conversely, if there is broad agreement, having one charity that the ward gets involved with in different ways is also highly motivating.
The wonderful charity Action for Happiness has a helpful acronym for what makes us happy and fulfilled. Looking at their GREAT DREAM, it’s striking how many good things come from being involved with charities:
Giving – Do things for others
Relating – Connect with people
Exercise – Take care of your body
Appreciating – Notice the world around
Trying out – Keep learning new things
Direction – have goals to look forward to
Resilience – find ways to bounce back
Emotion – take a positive approach
Acceptance – be comfortable with who you are
Meaning – be part of something bigger
The sorts of decisions that might crop up are:
- Same charity each year for continuity and relationship building or alternating for interest and patient and staff involvement?
- Mental health related or not
- Related to the ward/hospital or not
- Not (directly) related but helpful – animals, music, arts, nature
- One that is particularly important to a member of staff
The charity needs to be:
- Conducive to contributing, whether with funds but ideally with direct involvement by patients – eg gardening, caring for animals
If you’re fortunate enough to have a hospital volunteer co-ordinator, they are likely to have good links with local and some knowledge of national charities. Similarly, your local council of voluntary service (CVS) could have useful ideas and contacts.
- Disability gardening charity Thrive has begun to collaborate with Bethlem Hospital in SE London to develop a programme for long-stay patients working towards their release.
Breast Cancer Awareness Day
- Staff and patients on one ward were in the pink for a good cause when they supported Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Wards were festooned with posters and balloons, all staff wore pink and patients got involved by making cakes and dressing up for the day. Donations netted an impressive £200 for the charity.
International Book Day
- International Book Day was celebrated with cakes and donated books and magazines and a group discussion on everyone’s favorite book.
International Women’s Day
- Cakes and talks about what women have inspired each patient. The chance for patients to write either a poem or just something to express their feelings towards this.
- A Hairy Head day for Comic Relief, with staff and patients adding fake eyelashes, wigs, plaits, false moustaches, hairy chests for the cause.
- A frightful fancy dress Halloween fun run raised money for a local Mental Health Trust! Read more here.
- We have a charity day once a month where we bake and dress up and organise bingo and other activities. Friends and family are invited and the proceeds go to the charity we chose for that month.