Founder Kate Hardcastle

Founder Kate Hardcastle

This week the charity Dreamgirls are celebrating five years since they first launched, in that time they've done some amazing work which doesn't always mean making the most money.

Dreamgirls is something different, something which the founder Kate believes is the first to be done in the UK. They help smaller, lesser known charities to raise awareness and some money.

Founder Kate Hardcastle splits her time between being a mother, daughter, sister and wife and running her own business, which helps struggling businesses get back on their feet.

Times have never been harder for charities, people have less money, they pots for grants and funding have been reduced and there seems to be more and more people who need help.

For five years Dreamgirls have been working with the less 'sexy' charities to try and raise their profiles and this week is a real celebration of that.

There are 180,000 charities in the UK fighting each other to get the most coverage and the most donations, so each year Dreamgirls picks three to work with and get their message across to as many people as possible.

I caught up with Kate who tells us all about it....

How did you come up with this concept?

Well five years ago; I’ve always been doing fundraising work and five years ago one of my relatives died from a stroke and when I was talking to people about it, people knew about strokes but didn’t really know anything about what caused them and I knew that something needed to be done to raise awareness of it.

Everyone seemed to know about cancer and no one seemed to know about strokes and when I spoke to the Stroke Association they said that they really struggle with awareness and I thought, well that’s got to be something because if we raise awareness for this charity, not only are we going to help them help the people who suffer but we might help people prevent something in the future and that’s when I realised how challenging an issue we had because there are so many charities and not enough people know about the majority of them, so that kind of gave me the idea then and I started investigating other charities that were doing really great work and good jobs but people didn't know anything about them.

How do you decide which charities you're going to help?

They choose us because we raise awareness predominantly. You've got to imagine if we do a collection at events, some of our events we collect money for the charities, it's going to be a collection made up of a lot of ten pences and 20 pences, if that makes sense, so you're not going to suddenly get thousands and thousands of pounds because you're talking to people who that 20 pence will be a massive amount for them. So, when you're doing an event like that some charities, totally understandably, their concern is funds, they just need funds and we're not the right charity because we're about getting to loads and loads of people with a message.

The charities that tend to understand what we do, which is raising awareness for an illness or a charity that's got a more difficult message, they've heard about us and they know that we'll do a good job with the public and we do it in an upbeat way as well. We don't have lots of sad messages, we try and get people, because life's really hard as it is at the moment for everyone, and if you get people talking about very negative things or very challenging things with them it doesn't make people feel good.

So, like this weekend, we've got Katrina from Katrina and the Waves and she'll sing Walking on Sunshine and everyone will be singing their heads off and stuff and then we'll put a video on. But you know it'll be an upbeat message, talking about the good stuff the charities have done and try and present the message in a good way. Then people still take the messages away but it's not as down beat, it's not as challenging. Because we all feel that life is as hard as it is at the minute anyway.

For us to have done five years is a big thing

This week your celebrating five years, congratulations by the way, and you're helping three different charities. Tell us a bit about each of them.

I can't believe it, I have a job and I'm a mum, sister, daughter and wife and then try and do this for 1,825 days it will be on Saturday, I can't believe we've actually done it. And it's felt like it because it's morning, noon and night there's no rest from it. And obviously we do it for free, we don't get any money from it whatsoever, in fact it costs us money because we have to pay to put things on and get places and take time off work, so I've not had a holiday for ages. For us to have done five years is a big thing.

This year we're working with three charities, that have been affected by the recession in a big way and that's what we wanted to focus on, people that have really struggled.

One of them is the Retail Trust, so there's three million people affected by positions in retail and perhaps losing their job because of the recession. A lot of retailers are going out of business at the moment. So the Retail Trust provide counselling and support and loans for people who work in retail, or linked to retail and need help. There's some very sad stories, people who've actually had a stroke or a big collapse at work and they may not have the right health care finances in place, things to support them.

We're also working with the Willow Foundation. If someone at my age in their thirties gets a terminal illness, which God forbid it's such an awful thing to think about, but it happens. There are a lot of charities that cater for young people who get a terminal illnesses and a lot of hospices and they're also a lot of hospices for older people, you know perhaps in their 60s, 70s and 80s that might get a terminal illness. But when you're my age there are not that many charities focused on making the best of what time you have left and the Willow Foundation help to make dreams come true at that life stage. Sadly because children's charities are always so hard hitting and appealing, that should absolutely be the case, but there is also a big requirement for people, if you get a terminal illness at any point in life it's a horrific thing to deal with so we want to try and raise awareness for them because obviously it's still as hard whatever age you are.

And the final one, we always choose a more local charity because a lot of the events are based in Yorkshire, and we've chosen a hospice in Yorkshire that's celebrating 30 years and a lot of the charity Dreamgirls are in their thirties, so they've been going as long as we have been around really. We chose them because they want to spread the message that the hospice, particularly their's, isn't somewhere where you would go and pass away really. So we're doing an awareness on some of the fun things they do and again they're making wishes come true. If you wake up and decide that you want a jam donut or wake up and decide that you want to do clay mouldings because that's something that you've always wanted to do, they try and make that happen and that's the part of the hospice that we're supporting.

What sort of things have you got planned for the week then?

Probably too much actually. But we've got five events. It started with a fashion show with a difference, we used real-life models. On Wednesday (tonight) we've got Vintage Cinema night because it's 50 years of Breakfast at Tiffany's and we're going to have all vintage papparzzi and cars and red carpet. So you're going to get to go in like you're in Hollywood in the 1950s.

Then on Thursday there is something totally different, Never Mind the Buzzers which is based on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which is a quiz but its got a live band and everything it's absolutely fantastic. It's going to be really good fun. Friday night is Yorkshire's Got Talent, where we've got celebrity judges judging a version of Britain's Got Talent really, all kinds of acts Belly Dancing and all sorts.

Then Saturday is the one that we do every year, it's our big annual concert, but it's like five times the size this year and can't actually believe it in terms of the price. It costs £5 a ticket and you've got five celebrities playing five decades of music. We've actually got Ricky Valance who's come out of retirement to come and do Tell Laura I Love Her, which is amazing. So he's flying in to do that. We've got the Tremeloes from the sixties, we've got Katrina and The Waves coming from the eighties, you know it's going to be the best.

If you can imagine the juke box from your mum and dads house; it's going to be the music that they play right through to the Spice Girls and what we kind of listen to. It's all onstage for like £5 a ticket and we worked it out if you saw all of these acts, everyone combined, it would cost you £280, but it's a fiver. There are still a few tickets left for that, which I can't understand really because if I wasn't involved in it I would go right that's your Christmas present because they're never going to see it again. But yes, it's a fantastic event. Everything is about five, there's five events, five pounds, five celebrities, everything is about five.

With people like Terry Christian, Chip Hawkes from the Temeloes, Angie Brown and Katrina from Katrina and the Waves coming down to help raise awareness, you'd be silly to miss out.

Femalefirst Taryn Davies

This week the charity Dreamgirls are celebrating five years since they first launched, in that time they've done some amazing work which doesn't always mean making the most money.

Dreamgirls is something different, something which the founder Kate believes is the first to be done in the UK. They help smaller, lesser known charities to raise awareness and some money.

Founder Kate Hardcastle splits her time between being a mother, daughter, sister and wife and running her own business, which helps struggling businesses get back on their feet.

Times have never been harder for charities, people have less money, they pots for grants and funding have been reduced and there seems to be more and more people who need help.

For five years Dreamgirls have been working with the less 'sexy' charities to try and raise their profiles and this week is a real celebration of that.

There are 180,000 charities in the UK fighting each other to get the most coverage and the most donations, so each year Dreamgirls picks three to work with and get their message across to as many people as possible.

I caught up with Kate who tells us all about it....

How did you come up with this concept?

Well five years ago; I’ve always been doing fundraising work and five years ago one of my relatives died from a stroke and when I was talking to people about it, people knew about strokes but didn’t really know anything about what caused them and I knew that something needed to be done to raise awareness of it.

Everyone seemed to know about cancer and no one seemed to know about strokes and when I spoke to the Stroke Association they said that they really struggle with awareness and I thought, well that’s got to be something because if we raise awareness for this charity, not only are we going to help them help the people who suffer but we might help people prevent something in the future and that’s when I realised how challenging an issue we had because there are so many charities and not enough people know about the majority of them, so that kind of gave me the idea then and I started investigating other charities that were doing really great work and good jobs but people didn't know anything about them.

How do you decide which charities you're going to help?

They choose us because we raise awareness predominantly. You've got to imagine if we do a collection at events, some of our events we collect money for the charities, it's going to be a collection made up of a lot of ten pences and 20 pences, if that makes sense, so you're not going to suddenly get thousands and thousands of pounds because you're talking to people who that 20 pence will be a massive amount for them. So, when you're doing an event like that some charities, totally understandably, their concern is funds, they just need funds and we're not the right charity because we're about getting to loads and loads of people with a message.


by for www.malextra.com
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