me&dee registered charity charity number 1146147 Established July 2006
MARIA HANSON MBE PROFILE
My name is Maria Hanson (MBE). I am the founder and unsalaried CEO of the Derby based me & dee charity.
13 years in the making; the dream of two extremely poorly but ambitious women.
Who are me & dee? I am me and my much loved and very close cousin is Dee. Delia had cancer and passed away peacefully on December 17th, 2005. Not long after her death, I was back in hospital for more surgery, under the care of a nurse who knew us both. She asked how our chats about a charity had gone. I replied that we had talked about it extensively but me and Dee had never discussed a name. She said ‘surely that is it’ … and so the me & dee charity was born.
In my circumstances, I had been through many years of constant major surgeries, culminating in 2 stoma bags and heavy scarring through 18 surgeries, many to keep me alive. Neurological damage also changed my life but caused devastation to our home life, seeing me re housed with my then, teenage daughters. Through this process, Delia and I approached several charities for help, and as I was unable to ‘tick a box’, so was I unable to access help and support, nor was telephone help easy to access to speak to someone emphatic to my situation.
Delia and I were bemused and shaken by this experience and spoke at length over many cups of tea about how if we ran a charity, it would be very different to the norm. We spoke about a very simple form, absolutely no tick boxes, our phones on all day every day, and that we would give freely of our time to those who may not have much time.
Along with no tick boxes, there would be no discrimination between age and gender for applicants, meaning that anyone of any age with any life threatening, life shortening, and terminal condition could apply, and that we would deal personally with all applicants, emphatic to their needs, and matching those as much as we possibly could. Quite a simple task in the early days of me & dee with on average 12 families a year supported. Fast forward 13 years and this is over 100 families a year, but the ethos remains the same, the same quality of personal service albeit this takes on average 200 volunteer hours a month for me to run.
Almost 3,000 families have been helped over this time, from the early days of a ‘treat’ charity to now providing a full week’s holiday at no charge, in our two luxurious static caravans based on the Grange Leisure Park in Mablethorpe, just five minutes’ drive from the town, the endless miles of beach and the included private sea front beach hut.
I simply could not be prouder of what I with a very small team manage to achieve each year for these very precious families facing short and uncertain futures together. I carry Delia and the ethos of all that we thought was important in my heart and know that she would be so proud too.