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At a time when charities are feeling the pinch as events are cancelled and purse-strings tighten due to COVID-19, we wanted to help by sharing details of a cause close to our hearts.

We’ve been supporting the charity Smileforjoel for the past year and have donated around £1,000 so far.

But sometimes more valuable than money is spreading awareness of who they are, what they do and why it’s so important to get more supporters on board.

Founders of Smileforjoel, Suzy and Owen, with Prince Harry

What the charity Smileforjoel does

The charity Smileforjoel is unique in the UK, raising money to support families torn apart through murder or terrorism.

The trauma caused by losing a loved one in a sudden and violent manner can be overwhelming. The shock, distress and impact on those left behind has far-reaching repercussions.

Smileforjoel works with Victim Support to offer practical, emotional and financial help to families coping with the most harrowing situations.

The aim of their support is to show someone cares, and to help give them a reason to smile again.

Where the money goes

Donations offer relief and respite to families in a number of ways.

Smileforjoel has paid for:

  • Equine therapy for two children who witnessed the murder of their mum, to help them manage their emotional trauma.
  • Short break holidays to help families heal following a tragic bereavement or event.
  • Moving costs or furniture for a new home where families have needed to relocate following a murder.
  • School uniforms and essentials to help family members with the financial costs of caring for a child who’s lost their parents.
  • Dance lessons to give a child some much-needed time out and an outlet for their grief.
  • Christmas presents for families who are struggling financially following the loss of a loved one.

The story behind the charity

The charity’s founders, Suzanne and Owen Richards, know first-hand the devastating effects of violent bereavement due to murder and terrorism.

When Suzanne’s dad, Pat, brother, Ade and two sons, Joel and Owen, set off for a ‘jolly boys’ holiday five years ago in Tunisia, they couldn’t imagine what lay ahead.

L-R Owen, Ade, Pat and Joel

Only Owen, then just 16-years-old, returned alive.

He witnessed the cold-blooded murder of his family by a gunman who killed 38 British tourists in a rampage through their resort at Sousse and, with his mum, they have had to cope with the harsh reality of what happened, and life without their loved ones.

They have endured unimaginable pain. But they wanted to create a positive legacy for their beloved family, so set up SmileforJoel to help others coping with similar grief. What they’ve done so far has been truly remarkable and Suzy was deservedly recognised as Midlands Fundraiser of the Year in the last regional Pride of Britain awards.

Suzy and Owen with Holly Willoughby at the Pride of Britain Awards 2019

They have helped more than 600 families across the UK, raising money through fundraising events and corporate partnerships – but this is a fraction of those in need of their support.

How you can help

There are so many ways you could help this amazing charity – and not all of them involve monetary donations.

You can:

Connect with them and share their story

Suzy and Owen were featured in media across the globe this weekend, marking five years since the tragedy. You can find their story in the Sunday Mirror, Mail online and Bella Magazine. Or support them on Facebook and help build their community.

Support them next time you buy from Amazon

Simply enter the Amazon site through https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ and choose Smileforjoel as your charity. Amazon will donate for every purchase you make, at no cost to you.

Attend an event

Keep an eye out for some of the amazing events organised by Smileforjoel and book a ticket (as soon as we’re able) – or a table! We went to their recent ‘Dining with Legends’ night and had a ball!

Join as a corporate partner

Support them as your company charity of the year like us! Add their details to your website and show how you’re doing your bit. Raise as much as you can through team-building fundraising initiatives. By doing this, you can also tap into Smileforjoel’s incredible national network of supporters.

Sponsor a smile with a small, regular donation

Just £2 a month can make a massive difference and help sponsor a smile for families in need of support.

Offer an auction prize or donate goods

Do you have something that could raise money in an auction? Or items that the families themselves might benefit from?

If you would like to get in touch with Suzy at Smileforjoel direct to discuss how you can get involved, please email smileforjoel@aol.com.

Posted on 17th June 2020

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