After losing her father, Pat, brother, Ade, and 19-year-old son, Joel, in the 2015 terror attack on a beach in Tunisia, Suzy Richards and her youngest son Owen set up the fundraising charity Smile for Joel in memory of the loved ones they lost on that tragic day.

Smile for Joel raises money through a variety of events for Victim Support, helping our Homicide Service support families shattered by a traumatic bereavement through murder or manslaughter.

Suzy said:

Victim Support were at our door within days of our horrific tragedy.

They were our darkest days. Victim Support helped us with all the practical stuff, and especially spending time with Owen.

Even now, we know they are there if we need them.

Our caseworkers work closely with the families to help them cope and recover from the loss of a loved one. As well as providing emotional and practical support through this most difficult time, they’ll also make applications to Smile for Joel to fund activities or days out for the family.

Sarah* and John’s* daughter was tragically murdered. The trial was adjourned a number of times and the stress was having an impact. Sarah said she ‘wished they could disappear for the day’.

With money raised through Smile for Joel, they were treated to a spa day and afternoon tea away from their home, so they could relax without being recognised. They were overjoyed with the treat and overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them by people who didn’t even know them.

When her partner was murdered, Lauren* was left alone with their two young sons. The boys wanted to go on holiday, having returned from a camping trip with their football team full of stories of midnight feasts and the excitement of spending the night outdoors.

A holiday was beyond their financial means, but Lauren spoke to her Homicide Service caseworker about saving up and getting the boys a tent for Christmas. Not wanting the family to wait until the next year for their camping holiday, their caseworker made an application to Smile for Joel, who provided the funds for a tent and all the equipment they needed for their camping adventure. They’ve already had one weekend away and will enjoy the gift for many years to come.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make the difference. You can support Smile for Joel at their annual sponsored run taking place on Sunday 10 September in West Bromwich. Find out more and sign up for the Run for Joel 5K or 3K family fun run.

* names changed to protect identity