I always had a soft spot for projects that make a difference to people lives and the community around them, so on setting up Dashing Bear Productions and being relatively new to the Cotswolds, I did a bit of a blind Google Search for charities in Gloucestershire, not knowing who I would find.
What I stumbled on was a cancer care charity that I had never heard of before, but one that would become very close to my heart. It was a charity that I felt makes a massive difference to a lot of people at a very hard time in their lives.
Hope for Tomorrow was set up in 2007 by Christine Mills after her husband David died from cancer. One of the stresses Christine and David endured when he was diagnosed was travelling to and from the Oncology centre, a near 60 mile round trip. Since 2007 the charity has grown to become a national charity by developing, providing, supplying and maintaining various NHS Trusts across the country with Mobile Cancer Care Units (MCCUs), as well as nurse support vehicles, which allow the nurses to drive to each location with any drugs or supplies they need.The NHS supplies the nurses and drivers.
The reason the charity instantly became close to my heart is because when I was growing up unfortunately my mum was diagnosed with Hodkin's Disease, and had a 4 hour round trip to the Royal Marsden in London from Kent, this trip often had to be done by family and friends as my mum was too ill to do such a long journey on her own, especially after long chemo sessions. So a service like Hope For Tomorrow offer would have really benefited my mum, and not just her, but my Dad, my brothers and myself. If you would like to know more about the work they do, please click on the Hope For Tomorrow logo, and it will take you through to their website.
After researching the charity and getting a good understanding of the work they do I was keen to meet with them to find out more. So without hesitation I got in touch.
One of the key things that came out of the meeting with the team at Hope for Tomorrow was the desire to show the positive effect of what the charity does, how it benefits the patients and their families lives. On top of that, I also came away with how passionate the staff were in helping to grow Hope for Tomorrow, and how much they wanted to raise awareness of the work the organisation does. They also wanted the films target audience to be current patients, future patients, members of the board at NHS Trusts, and the general public, which created a nice little challenge in finding angles that could cover all these unique target audiences.
The three initial ideas for videos were;
What To Expect On The MCCU
An informative film, that would capture the positive emotion and fun onboard giving new patients an insight on what to expect onboard an MCCU, hoping to relieve some of the anxiety new patients encounter around cancer treatment on board what some patients refer to as a cancer bus. The anxiety comes with that patients aren't used to being treated on a mobile facility. It would also showcase how the donations that the charity get are used to help provide a comfortable and friendly environment for patients.
A Day in the Life of A Driver
The idea of this film is to show how key the Driver of each unit is, not only do they drive the unit to the location and back to base each day, but they are the first face a patient sees, and ultimately are the faces of the organisation. They are kind, fun, generous people who want to help the nurses give the best care. In some ways, they are the unsung heroes, but Hope for Tomorrow know how important they are. This film should give the audience a good insight into what the purpose of the MCCU is.
A Day in the Life of the Nurses
Similar to the above, this film sets out to show what happens on board, and how the Nurses see this as an important resource for communities. The film will recall some of the Nurses favourite stories from onboard, and how patients find their treatment on board.
Due to the complexities of filming onboard a Mobile Cancer Care Unit, where patients were having chemo and over cancer treatments, we set aside several months for planning to ensure that it went as smoothly as possible. This included Hannah speaking with the West Suffolk NHS Trust, and finding a suitable date for Nurses and the Driver, as well as informing patients that we were coming to film, so it was not a shock for patients. We visited a unit, to see the restrictions that we might encounter filming in a small medical space, and then drew up risk assessments, and call sheets, and location release forms. We also agreed very quickly that patients needed to have the right to withdraw consent at any stage whenever they wanted and we drew up procedures to make this as easy as possible. We also needed the day to go like clockwork, as there was a lot to capture to ensure we had enough footage for 3 films.
I absolutely loved working with Hope For Tomorrow on these films and it was a real eye-opening experience. You expect to go into an environment where patients are being treated for cancer and see a lot of tears. The only tears I saw were happy tears. Where the patients are sat in comfy chairs opposite each over, they can talk to each other about the challenges they are facing together. Some of them are on board for over 3 hours having their chemo, and it gave them a chance to make friends with other people going through the same thing. It almost felt like they could open up about their cancer on board, without being a burden to their families. There was so much laughter on board. The patients weren't just a number in a busy hospital, but the nurses had time to interact with them with a cuppa and a biscuit. Not only was there a lot of fun onboard the unit, but this service empowers the patients, giving them their independence back, as they didn't have to travel relatively long distances, they could make the journey to the MCCU by themselves and not have to rely on the help of family and friends.
Below is the finished What To Expect on board a Mobile Cancer Care Unit film and two infographics.