As you may know, Cecily's Fund has six places in the one-mile swim at this year's Swim Serpentine. Last year was the first event - here are five great reasons why you should take the leap in 2017, swim the mile and fundraise for us!
1) It's Part of the London Marathon Family
Swim Serpentine is organised by the same team that run the UK's biggest and most successful fundraising event - the London Marathon. The Marathon has been running since 1981 and raises millions for charities every year - Swim Serpentine is just starting out, but has the same organisational powerhouse behind it. You can expect a fantastic, well-run event if you take part in Swim Serpentine on September 16.
2) Swimming Will Make You Stand Out from the Crowd
Running is the most popular activity for fundraisers, and while it's a great way to generate money it's also a familiar one. By signing up to swim a mile, you'll be doing something much less common: and that might make it a bit easier to get your friends and family to sponsor you.
3) It's Easier Than You Think
Swimming a mile outdoors can sound daunting, especially if you're not a regular swimmer. It's for that reason that you'll have to train to prepare yourself for this event. However, don't be put off - swimming a mile is definitely doable and easier than you think, as our 2016 swimmers discovered. The organisers also provide a training plan.
4) We've Got Your Back
While we can't be in the water with you on the day, Cecily's Fund can support your fundraising efforts. We'll promote your fundraising page on all of our social media channels, sharing any posts of your own. We'll also link to your page from our website, and spread the word in any other way we can. We can advise you on how best to fundraise, and we provide a fundraising pack full of helpful tips.
5) Your Fundraising Changes Lives
Every pound you can raise for Cecily's Fund by taking part in Swim Serpentine will really help us to change lives in Zambia. Just £50 is enough for us to keep a child in school for a year, and £250 can enable us to provide five small business grants - helping young people get a business off the ground and secure a vital income for themselves.
Before travelling to Zambia, Cecily attended Bedales School in Hampshire. Two decades on from her tragic death, the school is remembering her by restoring a "Cecily's Garden" and taking part in the Great South Run in October.
Ruth Whiting is the former head of history at Bedales. Her recent blog post discusses Cecily's time at the school and her plans to study Modern Languages at Newham College, Cambridge. One of the school's responses to the loss of Cecily was to create a special garden at the school, which has undergone many changes over the years. This academic year, the garden has been restored.
David Anson, who is guiding the project says: “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”
Bedales' Director of External Communications is organising a large team of runners to take on the Great South Run this October. The money raised (with over 20 runners having been recruited so far) will be divided between Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation. We will of course be supporting the school's generous fundraising efforts in our 20th anniversary year and wish all runners the best with their training!
For more information, see Mr. Reynolds' own blog post.
On June 9 at Burford School, four teams clashed to be the first winners of the Zam Challenge shield - in the end, the school's staff team emerged triumphant and over £740 has been raised for Cecily's Fund.
Burford School generously hosted our five-a-side football event, and entered three teams. The school's staff, Year 12, and alumni teams faced a Cecily's Fund side recruited and captained by Simon Isherwood. Each of the six matches were fast-paced and very competitive, with every team determined to win the day!
Match 1: Year 12 3 - 2 Alumni
Match 2: Staff 5 - 3 Cecily's Fund
Match 3: Staff 2 - 3 Alumni
Match 4: Cecily's Fund 4 - 3 Year 12
Match 5: Staff 2 - 0 Year 12
Match 6: Cecily's Fund 3 - 4 Alumni
In the end, Burford staff won out over their alumni team on goal difference and secured the first ever Zam Challenge championship. Cecily's Fund had to settle for joint third place, but did score more goals than any other team. After the football, players and Burford sixth form enjoyed a barbecue, music and raffle which raised extra funds.
We're hugely grateful to everyone who played, spectated, donated and helped with this special competition which we hope will become an annual event. Our thanks also to Wenn Townsend who sponsored the Zam Challenge, and to Bakers Butchers in Witney who provided the meat for our barbecue.
If you're looking for a different way to raise money for Cecily's Fund, the second Swim Serpentine might be just the event for you!
From the minds behind the London Marathon, Swim Serpentine is a new open-water swimming event which takes place in Hyde Park on September 16. Last year, our two swimmers Tim and Verity (Cecily's sister) raised well over £2,000 by taking part in the first-ever event.
Swimming a mile in open-water might sound intimidating, but with a bit of practice Tim and Verity found it to be very doable - and fun! What's more, the £2,000 they raised is enough for us to support 40 Zambian children to go to school for a year.
This year, Cecily's Fund has six places in this special event. Sign up today to become part of Swim Serpentine and help us make a splash in our 20th anniversary year!
The London 10K, Cecily's Day, and our upcoming Zam Challenge football tournament are all featured within the packed pages of our 2017 Summer Newsletter, available now!
The second of our three 2017 newsletters is the last before our 20th anniversary celebration at Cecily's Day on September 2. It's packed with information on all the events and fundraising going on to celebrate the milestone:
- A new Q&A with two of the teachers from Southborough High School who are once again running the London 10K for us this July
- All the details of The Zam Challenge, a brand-new football event we are running together with Burford School on June 9 (you can learn more and donate here)
- An extensive piece by our co-founder Basil - Cecily's father - on the origins of Cecily's Fund and the ongoing importance of Cecily's Day
Cecily's Fund is proud to present an exciting new video which provides a perfect introduction to our work - and we'd love for you to help share it.
Made in part to celebrate our 20th anniversary, the new video covers all the major areas of our work in Zambia - from our core efforts to help orphans into school, to our very latest programmes in business skills, savings groups, and more.
The video features a number of first-hand accounts of the impact Cecily's Fund is having on the communities we work with. These include the stories of Jackson (pictured), who has learned how to run his own successful business; Noria, who was helped through school; and Jane, who is just one of the many children we are supporting right now.
Packed with new footage shot in Zambia, our engaging new video also details the origins of Cecily's Fund and features interviews with the inspiring staff who make our work possible on the ground. The video should provide an ideal introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Cecily's Fund, and we hope it will also be of interest to long-standing supporters.
Witney, February 27, 2017
Cecily's Fund Receives DREAMS Innovation Challenge Grant
Aims to Keep Zambian Girls in School and Reduce HIV Infection
Oxfordshire charity Cecily’s Fund is proud to be named as one of 55 recipients of a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant that will support adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. Cecily’s Fund is one of just two U.K. recipients, out of over 800 applicants, to be awarded a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which will be utilized to enhance access and retention in secondary school for girls and young women in Zambia. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds manager for this award.
The DREAMS Innovations Challenge is an $85 million HIV prevention initiative led by PEPFAR, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (a Johnson & Johnson company), and ViiV Healthcare. The initiative aims to accelerate progress toward achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017.
Through this grant, Cecily’s Fund will enhance its work in the city of Chingola, Zambia, where pregnancy can account for as much as 90 percent of girls’ drop-out rate in certain schools. Cecily’s Fund will work to help 900 girls stay in school, reduce their vulnerability to HIV and early pregnancy, and help them fulfil their true potential. Together with Zambian partner organisations, Cecily's Fund will strive to remove the barriers to education, increase family understanding of the value of education, empower mothers and girls to have control over their lives, enhance knowledge of HIV avoidance and tackle poverty.
Over the last two decades, Cecily's Fund has enabled thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia to attend school. This DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the founding of Cecily's Fund, is a major achievement for a U.K. non-governmental organisation (NGO), one that will provide the charity with an exciting opportunity to have its biggest impact yet.
Notes to Editors
- Cecily’s Fund is U.K. registered charity #1071660, based in Witney, Oxfordshire and founded in 1997
- Further information on Cecily’s Fund programmes available at www.cecilysfund.org
- For more information about PEPFAR, please visit www.pepfar.gov
A beautiful set of notelets with five different designs is the latest product to be added to the Cecily's Fund shop, with all proceeds supporting our work in Zambia.
Each featuring a striking photograph taken during the supporters' trip to our programmes in July 2016, the new notelets come in packs of ten. There are two copies of each design within each pack; the notelets are blank inside for your message, and come complete with envelopes for just £3.50 per pack.
Buying and using these notelets is a fantastic way to not just support our work, but also share it with your friends and family. As with our Christmas cards, information about our work as well as our contact details is included on the back.
Our notelets are available now from the Cecily's Fund shop.
World AIDS Day is a chance to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against AIDS, and the work that remains to be done. This year, Cecily’s Fund can not only celebrate the ongoing successes of our work providing education access and sexual health information, but also look forward to an exciting new programme which will take our contribution to fighting AIDS to a new level.
"For every year of education, a child’s risk of infection is cut by around 8%."
While the primary focus of Cecily’s Fund has always been on breaking down the barriers to education for orphaned and vulnerable children, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has always underpinned our work. Of the 1.4 million orphans under 18 in Zambia today, almost half are due to AIDS. The tragedy of AIDS in Zambia has created a generation of children who face tremendous challenges in accessing education – but the relationship is not one-way. We know that education not only helps to break the cycle of poverty, but also acts as a social vaccine against HIV: for every year of education, a child’s risk of infection is cut by around 8%.
In addition to helping children to access school, Cecily’s Fund also provides vital health information sessions. Since 2001, we’ve worked with our Zambian partner CHEP (the Copperbelt Health Education Project – also founded in 1988) to train Peer Educators, drawn from children we have helped. Each year, around fifty Peer Educators reach thousands of children with engaging sessions on sexual health, alcohol and drug abuse. They provide children with the tools they need to live healthy lives, and act as fantastic, positive role models. Two-thirds of young people don’t have the information they need about HIV, and our work is helping to close the gap.
"Two-thirds of young people don’t have the information they need about HIV, and our work is helping to close the gap."
This year, Cecily’s Fund has become a part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge. This exciting initiative is an $85 million investment by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, and ViiV Healthcare. The Challenge’s overall goal is to work towards a 40% reduction in new HIV infections among girls and young women in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the Funds Manager for this award.
Our new programme, supported through the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, focuses on a critical time in girls’ lives: the transition between primary and secondary school. Due to a number of factors, it is at this point that dropping out is most likely. Cecily’s Fund will work with 900 girls to help them stay in school, in order reduce their vulnerability to HIV and early pregnancy, and to help them fulfil their true potential. Together with our Zambian partners, we’ll work to remove the barriers to education; increase family understanding of the value of education; empower mothers and girls to have control over their lives; enhance knowledge of HIV avoidance and tackle poverty.
So much progress has been made in the fight against AIDS, but still around 1,000 girls become infected with HIV each day – addressing this through positive interventions at a crucial time of life is a vital aspect in the global AIDS response. Cecily’s Fund is proud to be able to build on our almost two decades’ of experience and to work through DREAMS to create a generation of girls who are healthy, educated, and better able to leave poverty behind.
Read all about what we've achieved in 2016 and how you can give Cecily's Fund a great start to next year in our Christmas newsletter - available to download now.
For Cecily's Fund, Christmas means an opportunity to look back at the year we've had, and also to launch our annual Christmas Challenge. Our last newsletter of each year is a key way for us to do both: and it's available to download now or to read online using Issuu.
In our latest exciting publication, you can read about some of the highlights of our work in 2016: from community-powered savings groups to the empowering effect of entrepreneurship training. You can also enjoy two brand-new interviews, one with long-time supporter Tonie and another with Linda, a key member of staff for our partners Afya Mzuri. Better yet, learn all about our 2016 Christmas Challenge, and all the fun things you can do to help us raise £20,000 and power us into our 20th anniversary year, 2017.
Happy reading - and thank you for your support in 2016!