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New families and old - The support journey 2019-2020

Be they a newly referred family or one of our long-standing service users we value people and seek to build relationships of trust and consistency at the centre of all service provision. These past couple of months we have met 2 new families, both in crisis in different ways. We are always humbled with the trust placed in us, as a family opens their home whether a room in a hostel or a more established home, and the privilege of listening to the stories at that initial visit, followed by getting to know their children on those early outings and visits and helping them make friends and find their place. Last year we had 5 new referrals, most of whom went on to join on outings or youth outings.

“Thank you all the team. My son had a great time today and my daughter had great fun on her day out. I’m grateful this charity exists…” (Newly referred Mum, second set of outings)

“Hi all, I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for everything you did. It was an amazing outing full of happiness. The kids were extremely happy and they really had so much fun, thanks” (Mum who has attended outings regularly with her 2 children the past 8 months).

At the other end some of children grow out of our service, another 3 of our teenagers graduating to adulthood. All of these started out with regular volunteers who invested in their lives, building a relationship and taking the children out weekly or fortnightly. One a lovely lad who I first met at 9 months old, now grown into a kind, gentle young man. Since joining our outings programme has only missed one outing over the past 8 years! Another started with us when he was 6 years old, a very vulnerable lad who has really benefited especially from a place to belong and having a laugh doing activities with other teenage lads and growing in confidence with the encouragement of regular male volunteers who have been significant role models in his life. Another I first met at 18 months and her volunteer visited weekly, supporting the children through the death of their Mum 2 years later. She has grown into a confident, compassionate young woman.

Notice of Appreciation received from a family sent as one of the boys reached adulthood, following outings for 3 children over 10 years: “We would like to convey our deep appreciation and gratitude for the assistance and support you have extended to our family in particular and the wider community at large over the years that you have engaged with us. Our life would not have been the same without your intervention and kind dedication. Much appreciation to your team; your tireless efforts, attention, love and assistance has had a significant impact on our children and family life in a very positive way.Our children have not missed out on the fun and activities that others take for granted.You have given them a chance to enjoy their childhood, something we have not been able to do as we hoped, due to disabilities and caring roles. More importantly you have given our children a sense of belonging and aspiration and social responsibility”.

This year we provided direct support services to forty-two families (137 people; 53 parents /carers and 84 children), through a team of twenty-six volunteers, either visiting families regularly or helping with group activities.

Our outings programme has continued to be strong throughout the year, and the heart of our current service provision. We were delighted Sharmaine joined the team working one day a week in April 2019 to coordinate our outings programme and has quickly built relationships. Through the year all the families have benefited from our group outings activities, youth programme and / or family party. Over the year we ran twenty-six group outings, including a Christmas Party and a Family Beach outing, taking an average of fifty-three children on one outing each school holiday which accounts for 63% of children on our books.

Each holiday an average of seventy-one children have been invited on an outing, with 75% saying yes to the invitation, and an average of 16% cancelling due to illness or circumstances. To enable these outings to happen we used an average of twenty volunteers each school holiday to accompany the children from home. A few parents have accompanied their children on family outings, and have enjoyed participating, but for the majority this would not be possible due to ill-health, disability or work. The average cost per head per child is £21 for 4-11years and £29 for 11-18 years (This cost includes travel costs, a meal, activity cost and volunteer costs).

Finance report:

This year our income comfortably met our expenditure. Budget adjustments made by reducing our office space and associated costs have helped a greater proportion of our income available for direct services and salaries. The regular donor base remained strong, supplemented by income from a successful ‘local hero’ fundraising campaign run with 'Localgiving' designed to help small charities campaigns to reach new donors.

We appreciate the support of all the churches, individual donors and grant trusts who give to make the work with families possible. We are grateful for the provision of ongoing and grant funding from the MacDonald Family Trust, the third instalment of funding from the Yapp Charitable Trust, and Magic Little Grants award for active outings.

Our full formal accounts and end of year Directors report can be read on the Charity Commission Website.

We recognise that we are overdue our bi-annual celebration, giving opportunity to those of you who partner with us to meet with us in person. We hope there will opportunity for this in the year head as hopefully restrictions will lift allowing larger gatherings. In the meantime we are always happy to talk by phone or email, and answer any questions so do feel free to contact us.