14th Sep 2016

As National Air Ambulance Week is about to begin, we caught up with Sara Jane, our Head of Community Fundraising and Outreach to get to know how the public can get involved in National Air Ambulance Week and why she loves working with London's communities. 

Commenting on her background Sara Jane explains:

“I started out as a charity retailer, but in my free time I have always done lots of fundraising: organising fashion shows, horse rides, dog walks, you name it… Since then I have worked for a number of large national charities and small local organizations, and gained an unusual array of fundraising experience, including managing applications to the Big Lottery Fund and working with trusts and foundations.

 “I really enjoy anything that brings me into contact with volunteers — any kind of volunteering, from a person who organizes coffee mornings to someone who does 50 marathons in 50 days. I find it fantastic that there are so many people out there donating their time for good causes. The different characters bring many skills and experience, and as a charity we could never afford to pay for such a breadth of skills. I also genuinely like people and listening to personal stories — I love finding out what makes a person tick — why they chose this charity to volunteer for.” 

She also explains how she sees London's Air Ambulance as a part of the London community: 

“Volunteering in London is very different to volunteering anywhere else in the UK. People want a slightly different experience from their volunteering, something they are able to dip in and out of and they tend to move around more. Having said that, I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear that there is a massive feeling of community in London. One of our volunteers has already set up a fundraising group with his family and friends and they are representing us in Edmonton, taking part in family days and collections.  

We are also very lucky that there is a strong recognition of who we are and what we do in the community, even if some people are not actually aware that we are a charity. Our iconic red helicopters make us really recognizable, and a lot of people also know us from the television programs. People support us in different ways all across London: many play our lottery, others take part in our challenge events and some offer their time to help as volunteers. No matter which way people choose, all the support is invaluable for us, especially in this busy time. 

Sara Jane and her team have been working extremely hard to organize National Air Ambulance Week, which is kicking off on 19th September. She tells us about how to get involved and reveals the latest initiative: the brand new London's Air Ambulance pin badges. 

“National Air Ambulance is about raising awareness of ourselves and other air ambulance charities.  A pin badge is a very visual way of doing that, if people are willing to wear them with pride and show their support. They are lovely little pin badges and let’s admit it: everybody loves a helicopter.

“The boxes are going to be on 300 counters in clubs, pubs, coffee shops, shoemakers and news agents etc. These local community shops are absolutely key for us. Last year we raised around a £88,000 from our 930 collection pots on various shop counters across London. We are very lucky the shopkeepers often actively encourage customers to give us some change. When a couple of weeks ago we phoned them to see if they would like the pin badges, we were surprised how keen they all were to have them.

“Hopefully these pin badges can go on and become a yearly tradition, like Marie Curie’s daffodils. We of course need to evaluate the success of the campaign as this is the first time we have run it. Next year we could make a slightly different pin badge perhaps the other helicopter so that people can start collecting them.

Sara Jane adds: “Apart from the pin badges there are lots of other things happening during National Air Ambulance Week and I would encourage people to take part in whatever way suits them the most. We have an amazing 582 hours of collections happening at various stations, so if you have a few minutes to spare in your commute please pop by to say hello and pick up a pin badge! 

“We are also launching our first Charity Calendar for 2017.This is another brilliant example of community achievement, we asked the public to send in photos of our helicopter and rapid response cars as they came across them in their normal everyday activity, we had more than 150 entries. The launch event on the 22nd of September will be an opportunity to showcase the photographic skills of our supporters, thank them for their contribution and also raise funds for our vital service. 

“We should never forget that every penny counts, it is a great opportunity to support us by wearing the pin badge. If every Londoner did that, we would have more than enough to run our helicopters for a year. Every donation, no matter how small, makes a genuine difference to our life-saving service. So wear your helicopter with pride.” 

Look out for us on the streets, we will be fundraising all week at 15 of London’s largest stations. Pop by to get your pin badge and say hello! You can also find our pin badges in 300 local shops all around London, so just give us a call on 020 3023 3300 to find out what your nearest shop is.

If you are interested in attending our 2017 Charity Calendar Launch event, please email l.kekuti@londonsairambulance.co.uk for details. 

If you are a shopkeeper or a small business owner interested in supporting us please give us a call on 020 3023 3300 to request your very own box of pin badges.