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Acorn Stairlifts' national charity partnership with Marie Curie was highlighted as a beacon for best practice at Europe's biggest event for professional fundraisers.

Held at the Barbican Centre, in London, the three-day 'Fundraising Convention 2016' was organised by the Institute of Fundraising – the membership body supporting professional fundraisers through leadership, standards setting and education.

Among this year's guest speakers was Jo Hancock, Head of Account Management for Marie Curie, the UK-based charity providing care and support for people with terminal illness, and their families. Jo had been invited to address delegates on gaining genuine benefit from corporate support through 'gifts in kind' (GIK), in which businesses support a good cause through donating goods or services rather than money. 

In a well-received presentation, Jo highlighted Marie Curie's partnership with West Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts, now the world's largest business dedicated to the manufacture, installation and servicing of stairlifts. Under the national initiative, Acorn has pledged to donate and install up to 60 stairlifts per year (five per month) in the homes of patients receiving care from Marie Curie.

The first patients have already received their stairlifts, with more being installed across the UK each month. Patients benefit from being able to stay in their own homes, cared for by Marie Curie Nurses. Family members and informal carers also benefit when the worry or risk of an accident on the stairs is removed. Meanwhile pressure is eased on beds at Marie Curie's network of hospices, making them available for the patients in greatest need.

Using the partnership with Acorn Stairlifts as a beacon example, Jo's presentation highlighted the benefits of GIK partnerships for both charities and companies involved in them. It also offered valuable advice to delegates on identifying opportunities for GIK relationships, creating a compelling proposal and making such partnerships work.

Speaking after the convention, Jo said: "We know that given the choice, most people would want to spend their last few days at home, surrounded by the people they love, and Marie Curie’s mission is to help make this happen.

"By providing free stairlifts to our patients, Acorn is directly helping us to achieve our mission, allowing families to make the most of their last precious moment together and enabling us to care for more people by freeing up space in our of our nine hospices across the UK. It is also important that charities identify ways of making partnerships sustainable by identifying mutual benefits and we are pleased to be able to help add value to the Acorn brand.”

In a linked arrangement Acorn has also donated a specially adapted Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) to the Marie Curie Hospice for the West Midlands, enabling wheelchair-dependent patients to access day services at the hospice. The £10,000 vehicle has been loaned free for an initial two-year-period, with Acorn covering all insurance, tax and servicing costs.

Dave Belmont, Acorn Stairlifts' Company Secretary, said: "Marie Curie is a great charity doing a fantastic job and we're delighted to be working with them in this innovative partnership. We share the same aim of improving people's lives so it's good that we can work together to help achieve that for Marie Curie patients throughout the UK."

Our photo shows Sheena, from Hampstead, who was one of the first patients to receive a free stairlift under the new partnership. She is pictured with her Marie Curie Nurse and Acorn installation engineer Sean Malee.

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