What a year March has been hey?
Never in a million years did I expect to be dealing with a national lockdown and such a huge change in the way we deliver services.
With four days’ notice.
And a complete review of our business continuity plan.
The fallout of COVID-19 is yet to be fully realised for us at Visyon. The next 12 months are going to be incredibly difficult for the entire charity sector financially. Many of the larger charities have furloughed huge teams already. Visyon does not have that option, nor would we want it. Visyon exists to support children and young people struggling with mental health and emotional well-being. COVID-19 presents a whole range of additional anxieties for young people and their families during this period of isolation, absence from school and families having to adjust to a new, albeit temporary, reality. Some are also, sadly, likely to lose loved ones, friends or community members. For all these reasons, and so many more, the Visyon team needed to adapt our support model to meet these needs.
Like so many other organisations, we’ve had to deal with the sudden prohibition on our usual way of working – meeting people face-to-face, to provide support, advice and counselling, and talking to funding providers about new and existing sources of funds. And like so many of you, we’ve had to rapidly get to grips with software like Zoom to enable us to continue to function. But we were determined to ensure that those who needed our help could still get it, and the fantastic team here at Visyon have stepped up and moved really quickly to enable us to carry on supporting young people across our area. I’m so proud of how they have adapted to a brand new way of working almost overnight.
And it’s working!
We have invested in new technologies to enable effective virtual working and we’re starting to look at ways we can run live events for young people to enable us to remain connected with those we support. I wholeheartedly believe that through this extremely challenging time, we will find new and improved ways of working with our client base that will enhance and add value to our services in the future.
Visyon, like most charities, relies on donations, grants and fundraising events to raise the essential monies needed to deliver our services. While there are emerging emergency funds available, we have essentially lost the next six months of fundraising and risk losing some of our connection with our amazing supporters. Many follow us on Social Media and have signed up for our newsletter, some have regular donations set up – which is brilliant - and we will continue to keep our various communication channels updated. But many more potential donors only connect with us face to face, through our local events, and through our communication with their funding teams. These avenues and sources of funding are now mostly gone for the foreseeable future. We estimate that at best, when we come out of this lockdown we will be six months behind with our fundraising strategy, possibly more. And at least 20 per cent down on our fundraising income. This may leave us with some very difficult decisions to make later in the year. We have already heard from one large funder who has closed all applications for new and continuation funding favoring COVID relief activity instead. While this is understandable and there definitely is a need to provide immediate help to enable support to be put in place, this is likely to lead to longer term services disappearing over the next 12-18 months.
Our solution to this will be to look at different ways to hold events and we are currently looking at our online event capability – yet another steep learning curve!
How can you help?
Well it’s not all doom and gloom, and many of us are finding ourselves with additional time on our hands, saving money by having to stay indoors, and there is a national push to keep active and learn new things. So could some of this be turned into a way of raising money for Visyon? Here’s some ideas from Emma, our Community Engagement and Fundraising Officer: https://www.visyon.org.uk/post/supporting-visyon-during-covid-19
Theresa Pass CEO