A review by a Board Trustee
The last year has been challenging for all of us navigating our way through the obstacles we have faced in living in a community facing a global pandemic. As a charity Acts Trust has had to adjust and adapt to ensure it is still relevant to those in our community who we aim to support. At the start of the pandemic we set ourselves four main objectives to enable us to thrive despite the harsh climate we were facing. These were to a) maintain public and staff safety; b) adapt service provision to ensure we continue to provide essential services; c) maintain good communication links with all those we are in relationship with and d) ensure the charity is financially sustainable to continue to provide a community service throughout the course of the pandemic and long into the future.
Each of our core service provisions has had to adapt enormously to ensure they are able to continue to serve the community in a safe manner. We reviewed our service models to a) identify those services that were essential, such as Foodbank and Night Light Cafe’s for people struggling with their mental health; b) identify services that needed to change in order to be safe and effective and c) decide which services we needed to suspend because they could not function under the government guidance. We adapted service provision such as introducing delivery options for foodbank, online provision of Night Light Cafe support, virtual mentoring for school students, online youth club activities and developing an online Life Skills Course. Where we suspended services, such as our community groups like Butterflies, ESOL and Youth Clubs, we have maintained regular communication to support these people and maintain good relationships. We even developed new initiatives to respond to the circumstances such as the Shed Slow Bikers Club to remain connected with isolated men in our society.
Similar to other charities and businesses we faced difficult financial challenges. Due to cancellation of most of our Energize services, resulting in severe financial losses, and the need to continually attract additional funding just to maintain our project provision, we have had to be very active in finding new resources during a very difficult financial climate. We sought to minimise the loss by seeking continuing support of key funding partners. This included Alive Church, our founding organisation, and BBC Children in Need. Both have continued to provide funding throughout the pandemic. We also have received local government funding via business grants and national government funding through the furlough scheme. We have been able to access local and national grant funding to support our projects that are responding to support local people adversely affected by Covid-19. Lincolnshire Community Foundation has particularly been helpful in supporting our applications. Finally our local communities have been extremely generous, both practically and financially. Local people have responded tremendously to requests for extra volunteers and additional food for our Foodbank. We have also received some very generous financial donations from local and regional organisations such as Rockstar International, RAF Waddington and Platform Housing. In addition we have received an astounding amount of individual donations to support our work. For all these gestures of support and generosity we are extremely thankful!
Our greatest asset during this difficult year has been our amazing team of staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure we have been able to continue to respond to the changing needs of our local community. We are deeply grateful for their innovation, flexibility and generous hearts. Despite the challenges that we have faced we are in an excellent position moving forward to ensure we will be able to continue to not only maintain our current activities but be able to respond to new opportunities that come our way in the future.
Author: Nigel Woodcock, Vice-chair, Acts Trust Board of Directors