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Supporting Small Charities This Festive Season

by | Dec 8, 2021 | Emma Willder

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The past 12-18 months have certainly been challenging, and the charity sector has not been left unscathed from the effects of COVID19. With demand for charity services at an all-time high and continuing to grow, we know that many smaller charities often feel added pressure relating to staffing and donations during the festive period.

It is incredible to see just how many people and families, charities all around the UK are supporting, and most importantly, how many more people are reaching out for support.

These charities continue to provide so many people with a sense of hope, which can often be the best gift anyone can give.

However, managing these demands does not come easy, as Operations Manager, Kirsten Mitchell from the charity Spoons, who provide support to families who experience neonatal care in Great Manchester, explains; “of course, one of the biggest challenges charities will continue to face this festive period is the elephant in the room, COVID.  At Spoons, we have had to be creative about how we support families in a safe and appropriate way, and this has taken a lot of resources.”

“Added to this is just how many charities are struggling financially, making competition for funding harder than ever before, and we’re also aware of burnout… Our teams, like many, have continued throughout the pandemic; however, many people are now feeling mentally exhausted.”

Spoons are just one of many charities that have reported and highlighted the strain their teams now face, with a reduction in both funding and staffing numbers.  

This issue has also most recently been recognised by the Government who have introduced the Volunteering Futures Fund – a step in the right direction for many charities, as we begin to see a collective effort to help increase accessibility to volunteering at any time of the year.

For now, Kirsten adds, “our charity recognises that many parents often have other children or families at home, making them feel torn between being at the hospital and home.  This pressure is amplified with the COVID restrictions placed on these wards as siblings, grandparents, and other family members cannot visit babies; this can be an extremely hard time, especially for those families with a lengthy neonatal journey.  Parents are experiencing more challenges than ever before, and Christmas will, and does heighten this.”

“Our main aim at the moment is to remain sustainable.  We have to continue to find the funds we need to ensure our families get the support they deserve.”

OJ’s Care, which provides differentiated activities for children and adults with autism, learning difficulties, and associated disorders, is also experiencing an increase in demand for its services throughout 2021. 

Lisa Donoghue, Founder and Project Manager at OJ’s, says, “Autism can be very misunderstood, and families often find situations very upsetting and stressful when out and about in busy public places. We aim to tackle this by reducing isolated families and welcoming all our children and young people to positive, understanding sessions.  However, securing the continuation of funding is a huge challenge as well as tackling the issue of sustainability.”

“We also see an increase in demand for our services at this time of year as many of our families look for a quiet place to visit.  We may all love the excitement and busyness of Christmas, but many people with autism do not. They can find it all very overwhelming and unpredictable, and one of OJ’s aims is to be a consistent support for our families.”

Wood Street Mission, a children’s charity helping children and families living on a low income, has also launched its Christmas Appeal 2021, providing new toys and gifts to children between 0 and 14 years old, ensuring every child has something special to open on Christmas Day.

With over 12,500 Christmas presents distributed in 2020 and 400 volunteers supporting their appeal, Wood Street Mission understands that more families than ever before have been pushed into poverty due to the pandemic, and as a result, the demand for their services this year is at an all-time high.

Providing practical help through their Family Basics fundraising, Wood Street Mission provides struggling families with practical everyday items for their homes and children, supporting wellbeing, development and engagement in education.

However, as an independent charity, Wood Street Mission relies heavily on its supporters to raise funds, donate items, and raise awareness of the charity.

How can we help today?

Offering our support in terms of volunteering and donations is vital and appreciated by every charity during the festive period.

For Spoons, this year, they are launching their #SpoonsWinterWishes campaign, raising funds that will enable the team to purchase as many welcome packs as possible for families on the neonatal unit. These welcome packs are a gateway to families accessing the services. They contain things that will support them to make memories and mark milestones with their baby, things like milestone cards and footprint kits, and a special journal designed by one of their own neonatal families. Families really appreciate these packs, reminding them they are not alone.

OJ’s Care has added a Sensory Santa’s Grotto as part of The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, which provides free meals and activities for eligible free school meals children and children with an EHC during the school holidays.  The Sensory Santa’s Grotto is very special for those families who feel they would like to try a visit with Santa. The grotto offers visits for up to 20 minutes to give children and young people the time to overcome any difficulties. Open to the whole family, OJ’s goes above and beyond to ensure everyone has a positive visit.  For example, Santa may go outside to see the child or young person if entering the grotto becomes too much.  OJ’s are currently fundraising to ensure that the Santa’s Grotto can be free to all families.

Wood Street Mission Christmas Appeal is ensuring that every child receives a special gift this Christmas.  Families throughout Manchester and Salford can choose the gifts they would like to give to their children this year, gifts that have been kindly donated by supporters and who mean the world to these families and the charity.

One small act of kindness

Charities are under pressure like never before, but we know that the charity sector is nothing if not resilient – and the team at Beyond Profit is always on hand to help.

Offering you and your board of trustee’s flexible support when you need it most, we can help you with accountancy and finance support, effective guidance and practical advice surrounding charity governance, and general information and answers to a range of FAQs!

Recovery is one of the biggest challenges and “buzz words” that will surround charities over the next three years, and for many small charities like Spoons, OJ’s, and Wood Street Mission, they will feel this pressure like never before.

Collaboration, funding, and further support will be crucial.  Creating more opportunities that can help deliver on objectives.

For further information on how we can help, speak to a member of our team today on 01204 582 104.

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