500 packets of biscuits every month for Big C…
A cuppa and a biscuit means so much more to those affected by cancer.
It’s testament to the impact of her appeal on behalf of Big C, that Norwich based Jill Watkinson is known to many as ‘Biscuit Jill’.
Seven years ago, when Jill visited the Big C centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) with a networking group, she heard about the many cups of tea and biscuits that are provided to visitors as part of the emotional and practical support offered to those in our Norfolk community affected by cancer.
Jill felt strongly that the charity should not have to fund the refreshments in the Big C centre and following her visit decided to help. She set up an account as ‘@biscuitjill’ on Twitter and asked for donations of biscuits. Although the social media channel was still in its relative infancy, she received a good response and so began Jill’s Big C Biscuit Appeal.
What started as a carrier bag full of biscuits delivered to the Big C NNUH centre every two weeks, quickly grew. Jill now collects 500 packets of biscuits each month for the Big C centres as well as tea, coffee and other kitchen supplies. When Big C’s kitchen cupboards are full, Jill also stores biscuits until they are needed. When available, the biscuits are also distributed to the Big C centres in Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn. It is estimated that over seven years of the appeal that Jill has collected and supplied almost 30,000 packets of biscuits for Big C!
Jill says, “I think the success of the appeal lies in its simplicity. It’s something people feel able to do to help, a packet of biscuits is a tangible donation. But it is so much more than a packet of biscuits, it encompasses the care and support offered by Big C and the power of the Norfolk community working together on behalf of others.
“When it first began, I would meet people in car-parks and all sorts of places to collect their biscuits! I have always been a keen networker and so I would always mention the biscuit appeal in conversation. This led to a diverse range of Norfolk businesses coming on board. Organisations such as the Theatre Royal and Norfolk Police have boxes in their offices for biscuit donations. I am also co-organiser of the ‘Norfolk Tweetup’ group which holds events for 60 or 70 people per month with the entry fee as a packet of biscuits. Convenience stores around the corner from our event locations have been known to have a queue of 20 before it begins! This all helps to spread the word about Big C too of course, when they explain why they are all there. I even had someone tap me on the shoulder at the airport once, asking if I was Biscuit Jill and handing me a packet of custard creams!”
Dr Chris Bushby, CEO at Big C, says “The support that Jill has shown Big C over the past seven years has been phenomenal. To take it upon herself to launch the appeal and make a difference in the first instance and then to promote, grow and organise the appeal to what it is today is incredible, and no mean feat! What Jill has expressed about the power of a cup of tea is very true and encapsulates the care, support and nurturing environment we hope to create at our centres for anyone in Norfolk affected by cancer, whether that is someone with a diagnosis, a family member, or loved one. Thank you, Jill, from everyone at Big C!”
Big C has three existing Big C centres located at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, in Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth and a hub at the Louise Hamilton Centre in Gorleston. These facilities provide an oasis of specialist emotional and practical support for those with a cancer diagnosis and their loved ones. A brand new Big C support and information community centre is planned in the heart of Norwich for spring 2019, which will ensure more people affected by cancer can access the support they need, close to where they live.
If you are a business or group of friends that would like to provide biscuits or other kitchen supplies for Big C, please get in touch with Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org