Giving Back: GeeWizz Charitable Foundation
Gina Long, philanthropist, entrepreneur, journalist and Honorary Fellow University of Suffolk, has raised over £6.5 million as a volunteer. In 2015, she was awarded an MBE for services to charity, having supported and championed many causes and founded her own charitable foundation, GeeWizz.
Based in Bury St Edmunds, GeeWizz is a small charity with big ambitions. As well as funding Sarcoma cancer research, it supports children and young adults, across Suffolk and Norfolk, with high dependency disabilities, life limiting illness and cancer.
Transparent and accountable fundraising
Here, Gina discusses her purpose, approach, and her utmost appreciation of the unstinting generosity of Suffolk companies, especially in such a challenging economic climate.
“The core of GeeWizz’s and my values are grounded in transparent and accountable fundraising, to ensure that every donor knows where their money is spent and how it has helped to change lives. I am a firm believer in keeping costs to the absolute minimum by drawing, wherever possible, upon practical support in kind. This ensures that funds raised go directly towards purchasing specialist equipment and facilities for local families, schools and colleges attended by children and young people with special educational needs.
“It’s an absolute privilege to be able to help make a difference by supporting individual families, through the provision of vital equipment, such as mobility hoists, electric beds and wheelchairs, bespoke-designed car seats and so much more. This directly impacts the quality of life for all family members.
Supporting those with special educational needs
“On a wider scale, we also support capital projects, by funding schemes and specialist equipment for special educational needs schools and colleges. This ranges from sensory magic carpets to an Apartment purposefully designed to enable young adults to learn life skills and to live independently.
“I’m really looking forward to groundworks commencing on the redevelopment of the playground at the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich, which is currently inaccessible to many of their pupils in wheelchairs. Never has it been more important for children to learn and play safely outdoors. This has been made possible by the proceeds raised from the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Legacy Auction, which was promoted globally online at the end of last year. Working closely with Ed’s parents, John and Imogen Sheeran, over 220 amazing lots were donated, including rare memorabilia, artworks, unique experiences and hospitality, raising a staggering £506,000.
“To say that 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement, and I am still overwhelmed by the incredible support freely given by Suffolk businesses who, without exception, honoured their pre-pandemic sponsorship commitments, donated lots and vital expertise and services in kind. Thanks to them and in particular, Guy Nicholls of Tru7 Group for his £100,000 donation. Proceeds from the Auction will also support specialist nurses and an outreach programme for teenagers and young adults with life limiting illness and cancer via Zest, part of the St Elizabeth Hospice.
“2021 has brought us ongoing challenges, yet I am all the more resolute in drawing upon this generosity of spirit to continue to support very poorly, very vulnerable children and young people across the region in this very different world we are all still living in.”
Main photo taken by Klara Balogh-Bona and shows Gina Long with Kieran and Shane Horgan.