Times are tough for a lot of people at the moment so we hope this story cheers you up before Christmas…..
What seems like a life time ago, in the middle of the Covid pandemic, Grace Sumner set her mind to a phenomenal thing: to fundraise for a proper van for outreach; our current one is/was on its last legs, which sometimes meant we had to cancel outreach and repair costs were a regular occurrence. Funds raised previously had to be put directly towards women in the pandemic. Thanks to the amazing generosity and amazing reach of Grace and others involved in the fundraiser through social media and otherwise we managed to raise over £40k
Unexpectedly, buying a van was harder than we thought – mainly as we had quite firm ideas about what we wanted, we wanted to be sure that we were getting value for money, Covid meant that prices had shot through the roof and campervan refurb companies had no capacity for someone with a weird request like ours. We also took time to consult with women and other organisations in the country offering outreach to hear what worked, what didn’t. Not to mention in all honesty feeling very much out of our depth with such purchases and still dealing with work pressures of the pandemic.
Our grand plan was to buy a 2nd hand van and have it redone to spec and had some initial helpful input from Mr. Fuller (aka Olivia’s dad) but while (the 4!) companies we spoke to were all (or mostly) lovely and enthusiastic, nothing ever came of these efforts; our request was too specific without offering an alternative, or we had to buy the van first (financial risk to us without a quote), no-one willing to put anything paper etc. and a new van was too expensive. The one supplier we spoke to last (Bespoke Bodies – lovely people, thanks to our colleagues at Bevan) did however link us up with a campervan dealer in North Yorkshire, for reliable, 2nd hand campervans within our budget. And so, on a cold winter’s afternoon Moya and myself set off and found what seems like the perfect van. With a few negotiations and refurbs to make it even more perfect, once delivered it will have the following:
A fridge, heating, toilet, running water, microwave, 4 seat belted seats, table and separate, private seating area in the back and plenty of storage space and lighting/windows that can be also be closed.
Once again, we want to thank Grace who set this up and supported its promotion (along with Kate Lister) and everyone who made this happen, we cannot thank you enough – even writing these words don’t quite convey the feeling and gratitude we feel. Also a shout out thanks to Dave, who was brave enough to drive her back for us down through the Dales and helped us with some technical specs. We hope to have all staff driving it mid Jan – once everyone’ s come out of isolation and/or recovered from Covid and had a good test drive to drive it safely and understand how all the buttons work! Most importantly, the service offer to women will be much improved and we look forward to hearing and sharing their feedback with you all.
THANK YOU ALL!!