Sunday, 29 May 2022

Care charity misses out on £230,000 in lockdown

Care charity misses out on £230,000 in lockdown

A CHARITY supporting young adults with disabilities has missed out on about £230,000 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chiltern Centre, off Greys Road, Henley, was forced to close at the end of March when the lockdown was introduced.

It has now re-opened but is initially looking after only two clients a day on weekdays. It hopes to open seven days a week, including a overnight care service, by August 17.

Staff all wear personal protective equipment and undergo weekly health checks.

The charity, which costs £360,000 a year to run, normally looks after 34 young people, aged 18 to 30, by providing a range of social opportunities and care services.

During the lockdown it has lost about £150,000 in revenue and about £80,000 it had expected to make through fundraising acitvities.

Paul Barrett, chairman of the trustees, said: “The loss in revenue is compared to what we would expect under normal conditions.

“The other loss is on fundraising because all the events we would have or that other people would organise on our behalf have had to be postponed or cancelled.

“The London Marathon has been postponed to October but I don’t think that will be going ahead and we had a large number of people running on our behalf.

“Phyllis Court Club was making us its charity for this year and clearly they won’t have been able to do much fundraising.

“We are fortunate in that we have adequate reserves to ensure we are okay. All charities have suffered at this time and we are probably in a better position than most. If we have to dip into those reserves, we can and will but we have to keep our fingers crossed that there isn’t a local lockdown.”

In the summer holidays, the centre would normally have up to eight young people a day.

Mr Barrett said: “As you can imagine, there is large pent up demand from all these parents who have had no respite during the lockdown and are now desperate to get some time away from the responsibility of care.” Gareth Groves, the centre manager, said: “It is marvellous to be back. I was very excited and very happy to re-open but it was tinged with apprehension.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to reach this stage and we have done a lot of risk assessments and changed our practices to make sure we have all the right PPE.

“To finally see the young people come through the door and see the smiles on their faces was amazing.”

The centre recently received a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle, which will be used to take the young people on work experience opportunities and day trips.

It cost £18,500 and was made possible thanks to TV presenter Chris Evans, who made a £20,000 donation to Phillip Schofield, who is a patron of the charity, on This Morning in November.

Schofield, who lives in Fawley, was interviewing Evans about Carfest, an annual family music and motoring festival that he founded and raises funds for children’s charities.

Mr Groves added: “It is like a minivan and you can get one wheelchair in the back. We have gone for a smaller vehicle and we want to raise more funds to get a minibus next.

“It was in our business plan to get new vehicles and then the donation happened out of the blue and it was just fantastic. It will cost us about £30,000 for a new minibus.”

Team leader Alison Spary-Hawthorn said: “We have had a great response from our families who are just delighted that we are back open.

“Because some of our young people are quite highly autistic, the lockdown has been quite hard on them. We were quite worried about our first day and that it would be difficult for some of them to integrate but we had one young man come back and it was like he’d never been away. It was just so lovely and I am still buzzing from it.

“A lot of our young people normally come here every single day, but at the moment we are having to share the love and some of them are only coming in twice a week.

“We have had to do it fairly and we will do it that way for the whole of this month. Depending on government guidelines, we might look to change things.

“We are a home from home for young people when families need respite. When you have a young person with 24-hour needs, we are there for people to turn to and we can reassure them that their son or daughter is in the best place.”

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