Mactaggart & Mickel donation boosts children’s cancer charity

Mactaggart & Mickel have rallied behind a children’s cancer charity to help it cope with a “heart-breaking” surge in demand for help from families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Joss Searchlight, which is based in Oxfordshire, have revealed that hundreds of families have been in touch with the charity that offers emotional and practical support to people affected by childhood cancer.

The charity’s founder, Dianne Parkes, believes the spike in demand for support this year is linked to access to appropriate mental health services for children.

She spoke out after receiving a helping hand from Mactaggart & Mickel in the shape of a £1,000 donation from the company’s Building Communities Fund.

“We are really grateful to Mactaggart & Mickel for their generous donation of £1,000 so we can continue to provide vital help,” Dianne said.

“There has been a massive increase in the numbers of people reaching out to us because they’re desperate for help and that’s truly heart-breaking.

“We are a safety net for families spiralling into despair and since Covid-19 grabbed hold of the nation by the scruff of the neck, we’ve seen unprecedented demand for our support services.

“We need help to address the immediate and unique challenges that having cancer during this pandemic brings – and that is why supporters like Mactaggart & Mickel are such valuable allies.

“It’s really encouraging to know that we can bank on the support of companies like Mactaggart & Mickel when families need the charity’s help more than ever.”

Dianne has been helping families affected by childhood cancer since launching Joss Searchlight - inspired by son Joss who had an incurable brain tumour diagnosed when he was just a young child.

That devastating experience means she has a genuine insight into the experience that many parents will endure because of childhood cancer.

“Much of the increase in demand is due to anxiety and uncertainty as families await cancer treatments,” Dianne added.

“Since the first lockdown began, we’ve been contacted by more than 300 families regarding mental health services for their children.

“Some 75 per cent of families believe their child’s mental health has deteriorated while waiting for support.

“Families are reporting that children are suffering from depression, stress, compulsive obsessive disorders, problems sleeping, panic attacks and episodes of self-harming.

“We must help children with cancer face multiple challenges to their emotional well-being, giving them guidance of the promotion of coping.”

Joss Searchlight is based in the market town of Witney but has a national reach - helping the 6,200 children who are living with cancer in the UK as well as their siblings and parents who are vulnerable to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Dianne said the donation from Mactaggart & Mickel, which has developments in the Oxfordshire area, will enable her to run structured peer support groups as forming alliances with understanding children is regarded as key to safeguarding mental health.

Joanne Casey, Managing Director at Mactaggart & Mickel (England), said: “We pride ourselves on being a family business with its heart in the right place, so we had no hesitation in showing support for Joss Searchlight.

“The coronavirus pandemic continues to create challenges for people in all walks of life, but it is clear that families affected by childhood cancer are being especially hit hard so we hope our support for Joss Searchlight will show they are not alone.

“The work that Dianne does is inspirational, and we know she will ensure our donation provides essential support to children and families who are crying out for help as they go through the toughest of times.”

Mactaggart & Mickel have a long history of supporting good causes. Their Building Communities Fund was established to enhance the company’s ongoing efforts to help organisations and projects which benefit the lives of people within local communities.

For details of the Mactaggart & Mickel Building Communities Fund, visit