Just Search has begun the year in an especially charitable spirit, raising money and helping to assist numerous wonderful charities.

Following on from the great job Just Search did raising money to help increase awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancer associated charities, in the highly amusing tache-laden ‘Movember’, the company’s dedication to support those individuals and communities facing hardship has moved up a gear in 2013.

Fiver 4 Five Fridays 

Who doesn’t like the idea of heading home early on a Friday?

Here at Just Search we came up with a cunning plan for getting the weekend started early. You want to nip off early on Friday afternoon? That’ll cost you a fiver for the charity of the week. At Just Search we usually finish at 5:30, so shaving half an hour of the end of the day (when the phones are always quiet anyway) seems a great idea!

We nominate a charity – with snow approaching, our first choice was the Barnabus homeless shelter in Manchester – and then set up an appropriate Just Giving page that everyone can contribute to (and HR can keep an eye on). It couldn’t be easier.

In its first week, the Fiver 4 Five Friday’s scheme managed to raise £155 for Barnabus.

An alarming report published recently in the Manchester Evening News revealed that as the economic downturn bites there has been a 30% increase in the number of people needing food donations in Manchester.

Just Search’s commitment to help Barnabus continue its invaluable work could therefore not come at a more testing time for Manchester’s homeless community.

This isn’t, however, the first time the company has been collaborating with Barnabus to help support Manchester’s homeless people.

Just Search writer Dan Higginbotham – An inspiring volunteer for Barnabus

Since 2002, Just Search’s content writer, Dan Higginbotham, has been volunteering at a Barbabus drop-in centre for Manchester’s homelessness.

Referring to his work for Barnabus as ‘humbling’, Dan said:

“The experience so far has been very rewarding. I have seen how appreciative the guys who turn up at the kitchen are and those on the streets at meeting people who actually care about them. And when you go out in bad weather, it is hard to fully comprehend that these people have to deal with this every day. I am so humbled that many still keep smiles on their faces in the worst of circumstances.”

So be inspired everyone, dig deep, a start your weekend early!

Once Upon A Smile 

Talking about smiles, Just Search has also been involved in assisting the Manchester-based charity ‘Once Upon A Smile’ increase its online presence. The charity was founded in 2011 and offers support for families that have suffered the loss of a child or parent from a terminal or long-term illness.

Once Upon A Smile works closely with hospices, schools, hospitals and other charities across the UK in order to provide support to families facing one of the worse situations a family could face.

Showing our appreciation and support for this award-winning charity, Just Search gave Once Upon A Smile a free website design makeover.

Junior Digital Designer, Sarah Cowan did a fantastic job on the site redesign and Once Upon A Smile was delighted with it. Just Search caught up with Sarah Cowan to ask her about her experiences working with Once Upon A Smile.

Do you find working on charity websites more rewarding/challenging than, for example, designing business sites?

With business websites the target market is usually very specific. Once Upon A Smile has an expansive audience, so to create a website that successfully appeals and engages with this is both challenging and rewarding. Different visitors will have different uses for the site; some may want to find details on hosting their own fundraising event, others may be charities wanting to become a referrer to Once Upon A Smile. Therefore the site must be easy to navigate. Children also use the site, so it had to be practical and appealing for them as well. I wanted the site to not only but functional, but a joy to look at and interact with, coaxing visitors to explore the different sections of the site.

What did you find enjoyable about working with Once Upon A Smile?

Once Upon A Smile already have the foundations of a bold visual identity, with help from their mascot Sidley. I found it very satisfying helping take this brand to its full potential through the site. Daniel Jillings (chief executive and co-founder of Once Upon A Smile) is fantastic to work with, as he’s both open to suggestions as well as helping with generating ideas for the content of the site. It’s also wonderful feeling to know I’m assisting Just Search in helping this charity with such a worthy cause.

How do you think the new site will help the charity grow?

The new site should help users navigate through website with ease; this is due to condensing the site map and ensuring all the site pages have clear calls to action. Therefore this will result in more donations being made online, and also make it clear how those in need of help can apply for it. Hopefully it should also encourage more organisations to become referrers for Once Upon A Smile to help reach more people in need of support. The charity should also gain more followers through its Facebook and Twitter social media channels as these are clearly marked on the site.

Tough Mudder

It’s marketed as being ‘probably the toughest event on the planet’ and who are we to argue? Tough Muddler events are 12 miles of living agony, as participators duck, dive and race through obstacle courses designed by the Special Forces to test contenders’ physical and mental grits.

Tough Muddler proudly supports the charity Help for Heroes, in which funds go towards counselling and recovery services for soldiers. Last month Just Search proudly sponsored TEAM HODGSON, which included Karl Hodgson, Noel Hodgson, Adam Newington, Mark Davenport, Kevin Brewster, Ian Walker, James Morgan, Elliott Blackburn and John Butcher, who all participated in what is likely to be one of the most gruelling 12-miles you could inflict on your body.

A whopping £1,165 was raised on the Just Search website in support of TEAM HODSGON.