Meet Our Charity Champions

Happy New Year from all of us at Progress! Last month was the exciting big reveal for on our chosen charity: Acorns Children’s Hospice. We decided upon Acorns due to the incredible work and specialist care their services provide to both life-limited and threatened children as well as their families.

To ensure we are best utilising our resources, we decided to allocate two charity champions from within our organisation to liaise with Acorns to brainstorm and implement the ideas that they come up with.

We were extremely pleased with the number of applicants from our staff team. It was a very tough choice to make, but we finally managed to whittle it down to the last two. We are pleased to introduce you to our two champions, Anna Hickman, Fostering Support Worker and; Jessica Foulkes, one of our Residential Support Workers at Oak Cottage.


Anna Hickman

As an advocate of philanthropy for as long as she can remember, Anna was an ideal fit as one of our charity champions. Her love of charity work began in secondary school when there was special research being conducted in the local community, and Anna wanted to get involved. She put together a proposal and the governor’s love it so much; they gave her the green light. Her first fundraising attempt was a great success, raising £250 in one day, having planned and executed the whole event herself. To present day, she regularly fundraises and carries out small projects for a number of charities. When asked what inspires her to give back her response is “I am very fortunate in life, and many aren’t so fortunate so just want to make people’s lives better as much as I can.” As well as raising money, Anna also donates a lot of her time to her local community. Amongst other things, since the age of 14, Anna has been making fleece rags for families with young children or those expecting little ones. Between her and her friends, she also donates them to the local neonatal unit; something she plans on continuing for Acorns.

She started off her professional career as a student social worker before moving into elderly care services. She decided to carry out her career working with children as she felt this was a much better fit. “Children’s are very sincere, and so you know when you’re making a positive impact; the mark you make in their lives now can have a substantial impact on their futures.”

“We are called “Progress”. That doesn’t, and shouldn’t only apply to the lives of the children in our care but in our local community as well.”


Jessica Foulkes

Jessica has been a Residential Support Worker at Progress for the last three years. She grew up with her biological parents in a household that fostered other young children. Thanks to her environment, she grew up around fostering which inspired her to make a difference to others. Jessica worked in Africa in 2010, with a fantastic charity “hands at work” in which she could help those in local villages that needed it: cleaning the house, making food and giving out supplies. Another trip was spent working with primary schools and orphanages providing them with deworming tablets. The challenge they faced was that food and water were needed to keep the tablet down and there was no guarantee they would have a meal waiting for them when they got home. So as well as giving the medication they also made and distributed meals to all the children; an experience they found incredibly rewarding.

She and her friends raised funds for a trip themselves to go back to Africa so that they could take supplies with them. One memory she has is with a mother who had a fourteen-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Her mother didn’t have any form of transport and so still carried her teenager daughter around on her back with swaddling, as she did with her as a child. Thanks to the donations that Jess’s group were able to raise, they were able to take a wheelchair across with them – amongst other useful fit-for-purpose items – which meant their trip had a monumental impact on the lives of several of the villagers they visited. Like Anna, Jess has always been involved in charity and has done a lot of her own fundraising along the way. Currently, Jessica makes bonding squares — identical squares made for mothers of premature babies that allow them to keep building a bond while the child is still in intensive care. The idea is that the mum will wear one and one is left with the baby, swapping them every day. She currently offers this to mothers in a hospital in Liverpool; something she wishes to provide to the parents benefitting from Acorns services.

The next step for both of our Charity champions is to meet with Acorns and brainstorm some exciting fundraising ideas and to decide how to put the money raised to good use. Stay tuned for updates on our fundraising events and opportunities. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a fantastic opportunity for you to get involved in Anna and Jessica’s craft projects.

Introducing Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust

In our last update, we shared with you our mission to choose a charity to focus our fundraising efforts on. We are pleased to announce that our chosen charity is Acorn Children’s Hospice Trust.

Based across three locations in the Midlands – Selly Oak, Worcester, and Walsall – our chosen charity offer an incredible support network of care for life limited and life threatened babies, children, and young people and their families.

In the last year, they supported 876 children and 1,097 families by providing tailored nursing care; such as short breaks, emergency and end of life care at their hospices. The children and young people they look after are not expected to reach adulthood and require constant specialist care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We have been absolutely blown away with the level of care Acorn provide, and their holistic approach to ensure that they meet the needs of both the children and young people in their care, as well as their families; an approach that we recognise well.

We certainly felt Acorn Children’s Hospice Trusts’ values aligned well with our own, and thus we made them our chosen charity partner. We mentioned in our last blog that between our staff members we would elect two charity champions that will lead the fundraising. They will be in charge of picking the activities that both our staff and young people can get involved with to fundraise. Between them, they will coordinate the events, be in charge of the money collection, and of course report back so that we can keep you updated of the fantastic events and what the money raised can help achieve.

In our next instalment, we will introduce our two chosen charity champions and find out a little bit more about the exciting plans they have in store for fundraising events. Stay tuned!

New for 2018- Our Charity Activities

The philosophy coined by Confucius over 2,500 years ago, is still incredibly relevant today. Over the last 25 centuries opportunities have become unlimited, and decisions endless. We’ve found this to dramatically be the case when it comes to fundraising and giving back to local charities. With so many incredible causes doing fantastic work, historically we have found it a challenge to zero in on a single initiative. As a result, we have given a lot of funds to many different formidable causes, but by spreading our resources so thin, we haven’t felt that we have been able to make much of an impact as we’d like to.


We want to change that. We have determined that focus is the key to fine-tuning our existing process. Instead of giving to lots of different causes and making very little difference, we have decided to split our fund pot down the middle. One half will go to a charity of our choosing, and the other will be kept for projects we feel would benefit from a top up. The charity of our choosing will be one that resonates with our core values, beliefs, and aligns with our business. The remaining pot will be a flexible fund that can still be used a number of different ways. Perhaps one of the local kid’s football teams need shirt sponsors or donating annual funds that we support such as ‘The Magic of Milly Ball.’ One of the recent projects that our owners Bal and Raj have started is collecting new socks for homeless young people. This is just one example of the seemingly small but hugely beneficial projects this capital can fund.


We are currently in the process of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on our chosen charity, and picking our charity champions: the two individuals responsible for the fundraising activities. Stay tuned for further updates!