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Gareth’s blog: 2023 – a pivotal year for Forget Me Not!

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of another year already!
And what a year it’s been for Forget Me Not. We’ve continued to bounce back from the pandemic in so many ways from the return of our family fun days and parties at Russell House to a fuller schedule of fundraising activities and events and our first all staff away day since 2019. It’s felt like a much more normal year which has been great to see!
However, we’ve all felt pressures that have made it a far from a normal year in other ways. The cost of living crisis has continued to impact not only on what it costs to run the hospice, but also on the pound in our supporters’ pockets and has only added to the challenges that our families are tackling on a daily basis. Plus, the lack of funding for our services continues to be stark with even the commitment to national statutory funding beyond next year still very uncertain.
In the face of mounting pressures, it never ceases to amaze me at how our ‘purple posse’ and everyone at Forget Me Not pull together. We launched a new promise this year – that, for as long as we’re here, no family in West Yorkshire will have to face of their child alone. I’m committed to delivering that promise, and I know from the passion, energy and commitment of everyone here (staff, volunteers, our amazing supporters) that everyone else is too – in my January blog, you’ll hear more about how we’ll do that! 
In the last 12 months, as well as providing vital support to families, we’ve also continued to evolve our services – we ran a successful pilot that focussed on maternal mental health during pregnancy. Through the help of the National Lottery, we’ve continued to grow our peer-to-peer support through the creation of new groups such as rainbow bump group. And we’ve continued to ensure that families across the diverse communities which we serve are able to access our services – through our community engagement work and translation services. Importantly, we’re working to further understand the chaos that families who are facing or living with the loss of their child have to cope with and developing how we can better support families in the future.
We’ve also added to our collection of awards this year! We’ve been recognised for our work in the community as well as our marketing campaigns, specifically our ‘Every minute matters’ campaign that ran last year. And the bit that people often don’t see – we’ve continued to work to improve the wider support network for families – like our partnership with West Yorkshire Police, with whom we successfully ran a collaboration event earlier in the year bringing together those who support families whose child has died suddenly and unexpectedly to learn and make improvements to the vital support that those families receive.
Of course the biggest personal change for me this year, has been taking on the privilege of leading Forget Me Not on the next exciting part of its journey. I know that the future will continue to present challenges, but I’m committed to delivering our promise and I can’t wait to start writing the next bit of our story as a charity!
Finally – thank you. All that we’ve been able to do this year has only been possible with your support.
Have a peaceful Christmas.