When it comes to how much this ‘Generous Generation’ spend supporting their kids, 30% fork out between £50 and £100 per month, with more than one in 10 (11%) offering more than £500 in funds across the same time span.  

To shine a light on the generosity and personal and financial sacrifices displayed by this group of people, we launched the ‘Generous Generation Awards’. A cash prize of £500, Neom goodies (worth £146), and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Bloom & Wild (worth £40) were all in the offing for the winner (Ts and Cs applied).

Find out who scooped the full prize package, then – and what it was that made us select them from a raft of entrants…


Say Hello to Julie Oakley

Nominated by her daughter, Sam, Julie has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity, having set up a community interest company known as The Project Dragonfly CIC.

Supporting kids and young adults with mental health challenges, Julie’s work within the not-for-profit organisation is nothing short of inspirational, says Sam.

In fact, she says: “Mum is an inspiration to all that know her.”

“In 2013, mum fought breast cancer.” Sam told us in her nomination. “In 2018, my sister’s partner was killed in a car crash, leaving behind my sister and two young nieces, aged 2-4.”


‘Taking it in Her Stride’

Sam told us how her Mum moved in with them for several weeks, supporting her daughter and the girls as they ‘faced a new way of living’.

The family’s hardship, sadly, didn’t stop there. “In 2020, mum was diagnosed with lung disease, which she continues to fight, and has had several bouts of pneumonia.”

Taking ‘all this in her stride’, she says her mum continues to look after her other daughter’s children during the school holidays, giving her the opportunity to work.  

“As well as also holding down her own job and non-profit organisation, Mum and Dad should be coming up to a retirement that they have dreamt of, by the seaside. However, they have already said there is no way they could leave my sister and the girls. They are always putting others first! This would be just the treat that they deserve.”


 So, how did the news go down with Julie, when she found out she’d scooped the prize?

“I was amazed,” she told us, humbly adding that she doesn’t see what she does as ‘special’.

“When my daughter's partner died, we had to step up and help our daughter and grandchildren.” Julie told us.

“Our intention was, at some stage, to move to Cornwall – or somewhere down there. But looking at it logically, the only way we can do that is if we take our daughter and the two children with us. Then there's the practicalities of her job, my job, and all those things that go with that. So, taking that into consideration, we put that on hold until we decide how we're going to manage that.”

Hearing from their grandchildren daily, Julie says she sees them in person at least every other day, as well as inviting them for regular sleepovers and outings during the holidays. This allows her daughter to earn some funds, safe in the knowledge that her children are being cared for.


Does Julie ever worry about her future and that of her children and grandchildren?

“Yeah, absolutely. Because the project I've got works with children with issues around their wellbeing and their mental health, I do worry what the impact of society and things like social media will have on those children. I've been working with young people for over 20 years…before Project Dragon Dragonfly, I had another project called Bully Watch.”

Having set up Bully Watch to help her children, who were sadly being bullied themselves back then, Julie said there was previously ‘little help and support.’


‘Lack of Support’

“It was just something that happened at school. They brushed it under the carpet. I looked into it a bit more, set up a support group and the project, and went all the way to the education department in London to complain about the lack of support for children with it.

“But since then, after I had my cancer in 2013, I was thinking that it's not just the bullying, it's the aftermath and the fall out, which is the mental health issues that come with it. The low self-esteem.  No resilience. Project Dragonfly was all about building that confidence, having fun, and resilience.”


Making a Difference

Julie aimed to make a difference to vulnerable children: ‘isolated’ kids who may well be treated to the material items they ask their parents for but lack quality time with their caregivers.

Working with secondary school children, Julie – a previous Pride of Britain winner – also supports those who are just five and six years old.

“In my mind, if I could build resilience before they go to secondary, [when they come to secondary] they will come with less issues. They will be able to work on those experiences they had and the social skills they've been given and the strategies to be able to manage whatever they face.”

Alongside her commitment to Bully Watch, Julie works in a school on a voluntary basis, during which she focused on safeguarding. “I did that voluntarily for 18 months, but eventually I got a permanent contract and I’m still working there to this day.  My health isn’t the best, so I need to look at changing my days.”

Thankfully for the people she supports [Julie also works with the bullies themselves], she isn’t about to quit her school role just yet.

“Sometimes I think of it, because what I would like to do is my stuff in the community [Julie works on a one-to-one basis, organising activity days and undertaking fundraising].

“You take that person out of that situation, and they see a different way of life. And that's where the resilience and building that confidence so they can say no, so they can be their true self and not be a victim of their environment.” she continued.

When it comes to helping grandchildren, Julie says it’s very much commonplace today – particularly during the cost-of-living crisis.

“When we go out with the kids, we see loads of grandparents with their grandkids. Grandparents might not have wanted to take on the children, but they have to do that…otherwise they would not be able to survive. We know someone who cut her hours so that she can look after her granddaughter.”


How will Julie treat herself with the prize money?

“I think I will try and spend it on myself, but I’m not sure on what yet.” she says.

We hope Julie does take time out to treat herself – and deservedly do.

“It was an absolute pleasure to meet with Julie and find out more about her family and her work – she is truly a remarkable lady.” says Abi Jones, Unity Mutual’s Head of Sales and Marketing.


What are Julie’s longer-term goals for the project?

“To have a parents' group that regularly talk about their experiences and how they can help. I would love that.”

Julie’s grandchildren are following in her footsteps and have undertaken several initiatives to help raise money for causes that are important to them.

Meanwhile, as part of our ‘Generous Generation’ campaign, we continue to help the over 50s live up to its kind-hearted moniker.

We’ve done this by launching our Over 50s Life Insurance*. This allows anyone aged between 50 and 80 to leave a fixed lump sum to their loved ones (either as a gift or to help to pay funeral expenses), thereby continuing their legacy as the ‘Generous Generation’.

*Ts and Cs apply