NEWS: Santa's Lodge visitors raise thousands for local suicide charity
Last Christmas, visitors to Santa’s grotto helped to raise just under £2,500 for local suicide prevention charity, If U Care Share Foundation. Prince Bishops management behind the creation of Santa’s Lodge which was situated within Prince Bishops Shopping Centre pledged that half of the profits raised by shoppers visiting the man in red would be donated to their nominated charity partner. During November and December last year 1,587 children visited Santa raising a total of £2380.50.
The festive donation marks the end of a year-long charitable partnership between If U Care Share Foundation and Prince Bishops Shopping Centre that has seen the management and security team at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre raise over £8,500 over the course of twelve months and donate free advertising worth over £3,000. The shopping centre must now turn to the public who will decide the next local charity the shopping centre will lend their support to.
The not-for-profit charity based in Great Lumley, County Durham was founded by Shirley Smith and her family. Shirley’s eldest son, Daniel O’Hare, took his own life at the age of 19 without warning or any prior history of poor mental health. The impact of his death was devastating to both the family and the local community. Shirley, her husband Dean and Daniel’s brothers Matthew and Ben, along with their cousin Sarah (then aged 10, 5 and 13) hoped to do something positive to try and prevent other families suffering a similar experience. They wanted to create a lasting memory to Daniel and that’s how If U Care Share Foundation began.
Shirley Smith, Founder & Manager from If U Care Share commented: “as a local charity tackling an extremely difficult issue affecting our communities the support of Prince Bishop’s Shopping Centre has been invaluable. From cycling to rowing to abseiling and crazy golf the staff and shoppers at Prince Bishops have done an amazing job at raising much needed awareness and funds. We are overwhelmed by the amount raised by those who visited Santa’s grotto at the shopping centre over the course of November and December and can guarantee that the money raised will go right to the heart of our life saving, culture changing work. It’s been an amazing year and all of our staff will be sad to see it come to an end and this would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the team at Prince Bishop’s Shopping Centre.
Georgina Thomson, Marketing Manager at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre said: “This is the first time we have had an official charity of the year and working with the team at If U Care Share Foundation has been one of the most rewarding and educational things I have taken part of during my time at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre. It has opened my eyes to how prevalent poor mental health is among our younger members of society and how important simply talking is, starting a conversation can literally save a life.”
If you have been affected by suicide, need support or know someone who does, call If U Care Share Foundation on 0191 387 5661
Image: L-R: Shirley Smith, founder of If U Care Share Foundation, Georgina Thomson, Marketing Manager at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre and David Brown, Fundraising and Events Manager at If U Care Share Foundation