Making a Difference: Callum’s Dream has seen more people seeking help

A HARTLEPOOL Mail campaign to help a poorly little boy has had a far bigger impact than anyone could have imagined.

The Callum’s Dream appeal achieved its main objective – to bring a smile to the face of courageous Callum Smith.

Jacqui Gettings

Jacqui Gettings

And then it went much, much further.

It raised £5,000 for the two-year-old epilepsy sufferer to have a sensory room in his Laird Road home, complete with cascading fibre optic lights and an illuminated curtain.

Even after we achieved the dream, the total soared to a staggering high of £14,000 but the campaign also had a profound effect on the York Road-based charity Epilepsy Outlook.

More people are seeking help than at almost any time in the charity’s 28-year history, said operations manager Jacqui Gettings.

Making a Difference logo

Making a Difference logo

And now, as we reported in the Mail yesterday, Callum’s Dream has been nominated as one of the strongest 30 editorial campaigns in newspapers across the UK as part of Local Newspaper Week’s Making a Difference campaign, running throughout next week.

From Monday, Mail readers can go online and vote and help to provide the Callum’s Dream campaign with yet another boost.


Jacqui said: “We can’t thank the Mail enough, not only for what it did for Callum but also for us.

Zoe Neesam and Luke Smith with their son Callum Smith

Zoe Neesam and Luke Smith with their son Callum Smith

“We are busier now with people coming in for advice and support.

“They are doing that because they read about us through the appeal in the Mail.”

“The Callum’s Dream campaign has been a really positive experience for us.

“It is surprising how many people didn’t know we were an advice centre.

“Many of them thought we were only a charity shop.

“In the last nine months we have been busier than for a lot of years.”

Epilepsy Outlook offers advice, support, art sessions, and craft classes, as well as running two charity shops.

Callum’s Dream was run by the Mail in conjunction with Epilepsy Outlook. Jacqui said: “It touched so many lives and not just Callum and his family. It was amazing how much it affected people.

She praised the “sympathetic and positive way” the appeal was handled. “I think the way it was handled was the reason it attracted so many people who wanted to do something.

“There was a poorly little boy and his family.

“We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the people of Hartlepool.

“They dropped money in to our shops, they gave donations anonymously, businesses helped especially McDonalds.

“Even when they weren’t giving money, businesses and organisations helped in so many other ways such as the carpets being fitted for free, the paint being donated for free and the decorating was done free of charge.

“But on top of all that, people with epilepsy have come forward and started using our services.

“ It has been very positive and this is the first time ever we have done a campaign on this scale.

“We can’t thank the Hartlepool Mail enough.”