The Leanne Fund is marking a decade of dedicated support for those with Cystic Fibrosis and their families.
The charity’s Annual Report 2020 outlines the support provided for hundreds of individuals affected by CF and their families in 2020; the expansion of services to additional regions across Scotland; and the ongoing fundraising drives and events that have raised thousands of pounds over the last ten years.
In January 2010, the charity was set up by Chrisetta and Willie Mitchell, the parents of Leanne (21) who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis and passed away in 2009.
Inspired by Leanne’s resilience and drive to live her life to the full, the charity was set up to fill the gaps in support services and to enhance the quality of life for those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.
Since its set up, the charity has expanded to offer social, practical, emotional and financial assistance to individuals and families across Highland, Eilean Siar, Orkney, Shetland, Grampian, Tayside and Fife NHS Health Boards and some families in Dumfries and Galloway.
The Annual Report presented to the Committee outlined the ten years of growth and success.
Outlining the current status of the charity and the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic, Chair Ann Marie Murray stated: “The services provided are broad and include special treats and experiences to allow families to make special memories; to assist young people in gaining more independence through the ‘On the Move’ initiative; to help people with CF ‘Get Active’ and maintain good health; and grants for emergency circumstances or to help to ease financial pressures. In the last year, there has also been a focus on mental health and counselling and mindfulness services have been added. TV cards and ‘Pamper Hampers’ also help individuals during what can be lengthy stays in hospital. The ‘Over the Rainbow’ service also supporting those in the final stages of the illness.”
She added that the nature of the pandemic had made it even more essential to provide support to those with Cystic Fibrosis who were classed as particularly vulnerable to the virus and were told to shield for 12 weeks.
Fundraising has been key in the expanse of The Leanne Fund and the Covid-19 meant events needed to adapt to become virtual and socially distanced.
Some fundraisers changed, such as the proposed Coast to Coast cycle by employees of BP in Aberdeen. They instead amended the challenge to a remote one, where collectively they cycled a total of 24,901 miles – the distance around the world – during September. Other fundraisers ranged from bake sales and raffles, a virtual London Marathon, in-car bingo, 50km run in one day, and an auction of beautifully hand-carved guitars. Staff in the hospitals where support is provided have also taken on fundraising challenges.
External funding from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund and the Bank of Scotland REACH funding programme have been key and support the Lord Provost's Charitable Trust, Tesco Bags of Help and Aberdeen University Student Union's Raising and Giving group (AUSA RAG) have been a huge help.
The report notes the ongoing support from organisations and businesses who have assisted the Fund in providing services.
The report states: “We also continue to be grateful to Woody’s Express Services for their assistance in delivering hampers prepared in the office in Stornoway across to various hospitals on the mainland. It is so encouraging to receive additional support from businesses and organisations who recognise our good work.”
The Leanne Fund’s tenth anniversary was also marked in the Scottish Parliament by MSP for the Western Isles, Alasdair Allan. He congratulated the Fund for the significant achievements in providing support for those with cystic fibrosis and their families across the Highlands and Islands and Grampian regions. The motion was supported by cross-party members of the Scottish Parliament.
Highlighting the growth of the charity, the report concludes: “Our proudest achievement is being able to help a growing number of people over a greater geographical area of Scotland, now we are established in Tayside. The positive feedback received from service users year-on-year goes a long way to show the impact our services have on their lives, and how appreciative they are to have this support that was previously not available to them.”
The Leanne Fund is run by Development Manager Chrisetta Mitchell who is supported in her work by a committee of volunteers.
The Leanne Fund is continuing to provide vital support to those affected by Cystic Fibrosis and their families across the Highlands and Islands, Grampian and Tayside regions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charity, which relies heavily on fundraising and donations, is currently working hard to continue assisting those with Cystic Fibrosis who are classed as extremely vulnerable to severe illness from infection with COVID-19.
All fundraising events for the charity including the Point 5k/10k and Tiumpan 20/20 Challenge have now been postponed.
Currently all Leanne Fund service users are self-isolating at home for a minimum of 12 weeks.
Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager of The Leanne Fund said the charity are seeing an increasing number of requests for sport and fitness equipment for home use.
She said: “Individuals affected by CF are encouraged to participate in regular physical activity and exercise to help improve physical function, cardiovascular performance and muscle strength. While they are no longer permitted to go out or attend the gym or sports classes we have seen a marked increase in the number of requests for sport and fitness equipment for home use.
"This is available through our Get Active service. We have recently supported individuals with treadmills, weight benches, trampolines and exercise bikes. Suppliers are experiencing an unprecedented demand but so far we have managed to fulfil requests which means individuals can maintain their fitness and importantly their lung function while they are having to remain indoors.”
She added that maintaining mental health is also hugely important particularly in the current situation and The Leanne Fund is also striving to offer support services.
“If you have Cystic Fibrosis and are self-isolating or social distancing because of coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s important to look after your mental health. It’s normal to feel anxious, frustrated or bored, but if you’re worried about the effect it will have on your mental health, you are not alone – we are here to help!
“As key Cystic Fibrosis staff may be redeployed to provide support in other areas during the COVID-19 crisis, individuals and families are urged to contact The Leanne Fund directly if they require to access any of our support services.
“Our professional registered mindfulness coaches/counsellors are at the end of the phone or available via Skype/Zoom. Please get in touch with us on 01851 702020 or via email at email@example.com”
As a charity which relies entirely on fundraising and donations, Chrisetta added: “We are so grateful to those who have given so generously to allow us to be able to provide this support during this time of crisis.”
“The Leanne Fund relies entirely on fundraising and donations to fund our vital support services and anyone wishing to give towards our work can do so at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1018656”
Ten years of The Leanne Fund was marked in the Scottish Parliament last week with a motion put forward by Isles MSP Alasdair Allan.
Mr Allan congratulated the charity for the significant achievements in providing support to those with Cystic Fibrosis and their families across the Highlands and Islands and Grampian regions.
He said: “The Leanne Fund is an incredible charity which we are lucky to have. It’s even more inspirational when you consider how the charity began, and the work Chrisetta and the other volunteers had to put in to establish the charity and to support people with cystic fibrosis and their families.
“I was delighted to put down a motion in the Scottish Parliament marking their tenth anniversary. I hope the next ten years are at least as successful.”
The motion was supported by cross party members of the Scottish Parliament.
Chrisetta Mitchell, Development Manager of The Leanne Fund said: “The Leanne Fund has progressed so much over the last 10 years which has allowed us to expand to other areas and increase the level of support services we provide.
“We are very pleased that the work of our charity has been noted in the Scottish Parliament and we thank our MSP Alasdair Allan for putting this forward.”
The motion stated:
“That the Parliament congratulate the Leanne Fund, considers that is it the foremost Cystic Fibrosis charity organisation in the Highlands and Islands and Grampian regions, praises its achievements in providing psychological, emotional, social, physical and financial support to those with the condition and their families; recognises the legacy of Leanne Mitchell, who passed away from the condition aged 21, of helping others and giving individuals the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest extent and with a joyful heart; commends the Mitchell family and the entire Leanne Fund organisation for their continued tireless support of individuals living with Cystic Fibrosis and their families, and wishes them continued success in the years to come.”