Stripped of their usual routines and struggling to cope, many of the people we support have found their health and wellbeing affected by Covid restrictions.
But despite the challenges, our charity has continued to offer support throughout the crisis. Our lockdown story is one of hope and a community coming together in difficult times.
As we look to the future we want to update you on how your support is helping us survive this period and how we need your help to thrive in the future.Coping with COVID: the full story
Florrie lives at Minstead Lodge, our residential service offering round the clock support to help build independence.
During the most stringent measures Florrie spent seven weeks at home with her family, which helped her cope with the difficult COVID situation.
Now she has returned to the Lodge and this is her lockdown story.
Julia has been a volunteer at Minstead Trust for about five years, mainly involved with fundraising and promotion in the community.
When the covid crisis hit, Julia knew she had to do something to help the Trust survive and took on a challenge to raise crucial funds.
By growing 26 different types of vegetables and flowers for harvesting, Julia raised £260 as part of the 2.6 challenge.
Martha is one of Minstead Trust's support workers in supported living, helping people to live more independently in their own homes.
Throughout lockdown she continued to care, moving out of her own home to ensure she could keep caring for vulnerable people.
As restrictions lift and we look towards a return to more normality, Martha looks back on lockdown and the challenges and opportunities it presented.
We still face many challenges to keep caring through COVID. Your support remains as crucial as ever - only with your help can we continue our work.
At the start of lockdown, the Trust had to close all of our community activities, our day services and our three social enterprises – Furzey Gardens, Hanger Farm Arts Centre and Minstead Lodge conference and events centre.
Despite these challenges, we have continued to support the vast majority of those individuals that ordinarily access Minstead Trust provision – be that continuing to provide care and support in our residential home, in our community houses, in day services, through community outreach, telephone welfare calls to individuals and families and developing online sessions including the community theatre.
We also had to cancel a number of fundraising events, including our much anticipated Spring Ball, as well as other local fundraising events.
Thanks to your generous support of our emergency appeal, we have raised over £300,000 from individuals and grant making trusts. This is an unprecedented amount of money raised in such a short amount of time and we are truly thankful for your support to make that happen.
That funding has meant that we have been able to keep Minstead Trust open over the past four months.
Examples of what we have been able to do with your generous support include:
Importantly, we have been able to use your money to keep Minstead Trust running so that we can continue to be there right now and in the future.
As a charity focused on providing support to individuals, our biggest cost is staffing and our second biggest cost is facilities. Last year, over 75% of our expenditure went on these two cost centres.
At the start of the pandemic, in order to reduce costs, we furloughed a number of non-care and support staff including administrators, facilities, volunteer coordinators, work-placement and the majority of people working in our social enterprises.
We limited all but essential spend across the Trust including stopping planned upgrades on our facilities, marketing and communication.
However, this level of life-support operational running is not sustainable and, as services open up again, we are bringing people back in to run those areas.
We have also had to make the very difficult decisions to let some people go who were working in non-front line care roles including our social enterprises and administrative roles.
Whilst your support has helped us get this far, there are still a number of uncertainties as to the future and we still need your help.
As well as enabling us to keep on providing high quality care, support and employment and training opportunities to people with learning disabilities, the combination of income from fundraising, from social enterprises and contributions to core operating costs from day services all contribute to the day to day running costs of Minstead Trust.
They help pay for the tools and equipment, the volunteer manager, our facilities including IT, our vehicles, the community outreach workers, our quality assurance training and delivery, and our back office infrastructure that are all there to support the high quality front-line work of the Trust.
We continue to need your help to pay for those costs so that we can keep focusing on providing support to the people who need it most.
Minstead Trust continues to support 200 people with learning disabilities – some in new ways e.g. through telephone and online support. It is important that we can work our way through this crisis and continue to provide support.
If we don’t, the capacity of the sector and of other provider organisations will not be sufficient to cover the demand, which, if anything, is likely to increase in terms of health and wellbeing support in recovery from this trauma. People will find themselves with less support and fewer opportunities to fulfil their potential. They will quickly lose confidence and skills and be unable to play their part in society. In turn, local communities will be poorer through losing the gift that people with learning disabilities bring to any interactions with others.
Having survived the initial crisis, we are taking stock of the impact and implications for people with learning disabilities, what they will need in future and how we can provide those services in line with our strategic aims, in a very different financial environment, and secure sufficient income to do so.
We are exploring new partnerships and funding to deliver services in new ways, for example, taking community activities online with a new choir venture with Riverside Studios.
Some good news is that whilst our successful new programme Step Up for Work was halted, our partners, Skanska UK, have just confirmed that they are still able to place one of the recent graduates from the scheme, and we have re-started support for that individual to enable this exciting transition. Another individual has just returned to their job at Paulton’s Park. A re-launch of the full programme is now planned for January 2021, once new funding is in place.
Prior to Covid-19 we were a strong and sustainable charity with diverse income streams. As we move forward, we continue to deplete our reserves to plug the shortfall between income and expenditure to help us move from crisis to recovery phase.
We urgently need further injection of fundraising support to address this situation.
We know that the prospect of a deep recession in the UK will impact significantly on both individuals’ ability to support us either directly or through our social enterprises, and also further tightening of social care budgets which have already been put under tremendous strain.
We know that there are likely to be very tough times ahead, but we are confident that if our supporters are able to continue to help us respond to the financial challenges we are facing, then we will be able to build back successfully.