Mothercare Chester’s ‘Gift A Bundle’ scheme supports local charity

Today Save the Family received 3 boxes of clothes which have been donated through Mothercare Chester‘s ‘Gift A Bundle’ scheme.
Thank you to the team in store and to everyone who donated clothes to the scheme. These will be greatly received by the families we’re supporting.
Pictured are Angie Coleclough (Deputy Manager) and Tracey Lucas from Mothercare Chester with Dan Read our Events & Fundraising Coordinator.


2p, or not 2p: that is the question

The chancellor of the exchequer yesterday announced a consultation on whether or not we should scrap 1p and 2p coins. You can read more about the announcements in the Spring Statement in Paul Winyard’s blog. As part of a review of digital payments, the chancellor reported that one in twelve 1p and 2p coins are literally thrown in the bin. Six in ten 1p and 2p pieces end up in a glass jar – of which more in a minute.

The thought of people no longer carrying around all that loose change in their pockets is not just a cause of imminent concern to the clothing and tailoring trades or the operators of amusement arcades. Charities too might be affected, with some already asking if this is the death knell for charitable donations. In short, no. I’ll explain why, but there are some interesting issues worth discussion.

A pyramid of pounds, shillings and pence

Charities have long depended on lots of people giving small amounts. Crowdfunding has been around since at least victorian times to my knowledge, when fundraisiers for the voluntary hospitals referred to appeals based upon ‘a pyramid of pounds, shillings and pence’. Pennies from donors were an important mechanism for getting wealthier employers involved. Cash remains the single most popular way people give to charity – according to CAF’s excellent UK Giving 2017, 58% of donors give to charity using cash. Giving loose change is a habit ingrained in the British culture and psyche.



But loose change doesn’t generate much money. 10 years ago, when we last collected the data, we reckoned 48% of donors used cash, and that all of the cash given (not just loose change) generated 16p of every £1 the public donated. Modern fundraising has more emphasised a shift to regular giving, with direct debits doing much of the heavy lifting in terms of the total amount given to charity. Also, as charities we increasingly depend upon a small number of very generous donors who give large amounts of money – what academics call ‘the civic core‘ – and cash clearly isn’t the way they work.

 ‘When I’ve done bucket collections you don’t often see people separating out 1 & 2p coins from 5p or 10p pieces. My hunch is that it’s less to do with the value of those coins, but whether there are fewer coins around generally for people to reach into their pocket for. …’
 The loss of loose change in the form of 1p and 2p coins is unlikely to make a major dent in the total amount given to charity. It might even increase what people give, if we instead give 5ps and 10ps. Either way, we’d be hasty in dismissing out of hand the importance of loose change. Looking again at @cafonline‘s excellent UK Giving, counter intuitively, the people most likely to give to charity using cash are 16–24 yr olds. Whilst we are probably all obsessing about ‘channel shift’ and digital natives, giving loose change remains a way in for those who want to support the causes that they believe in, but might not have the means to give in other ways. Giving small amounts is also one of the ways that we teach the giving habit to our children. And that matters: people giving pennies today might be the people who give pounds tomorrow.

9/ Should we phase out 1p 2p coins from a charity perspective? If answer is no, I’d argue the reason isn’t because of the money raised, but because of the engagement and fun that this sort of giving generates. Anyone ever fill a whisky bottle with coins and give it to a charity?

Putting pennies in the tin is how we teach children about giving to charities. I see parents/carers doing it all the time @TheMillE17

 Giving is about more than money

Giving to charity isn’t just about the cash, both for the charity and the donor. For charities, I reckon it’s an important indicator that a majority of the population (61% of adults) give to charity. It’s an important barometer of our legitimacy. I’d be reluctant to see that fall. It’s also important to maintain a broad-based democracy of giving – many already argue that charities have become too dependent upon the whim of major philanthropists.

Giving loose change also makes the practice of participation, of getting involved, easy. And human. Whilst that sounds like a political science lecture, these habits are the foundation of democratic engagement. And at a time when we seem as a society to be obsessed with designing-out the human touch – a point eloquently made recently both by David Robinson and Julia Unwin – there’s a face to face element of much cash giving that seems to me important. Not least of which is for charities, as it’s an opportunity for a conversation about the cause.

The fate of six out of ten coppers, apparently

As I kid, I had a huge whisky bottle that I used to fill with copper coins. It’s a fundraiser behind the bar of many a pub I’ve visited. Contributing via such methods is a small act of kindness that, I would argue, matters.

The death of cash?

The death of cash has been predicted for numerous years. Such an outcome may well be premature. But the gradual shift to digital mechanisms for buying your newspaper or giving to charity is starting to happen. Some larger charities are already preparing for that future, and are starting to encourage people to donate by tapping their bank card or the digital wallet on their phone.

Likewise, you can digitally give pennies to a charity by rounding up your shopping bill at some of our bigger supermarket chains. The Pennies Foundation is a fantastic idea, and it’s raised over £12 million for charities. Digital offers us some real opportunities (and a few false starts, as one initiative I was involved with found).

But in any transition from giving cash to digital payments, it’s going to be especially important that we help small charities make the transition. It seems hard for me to believe, but I was writing about how innovation in giving would change charities in 2012 – and technology has come on so much since then. It’s gotten much easier since then – some traders at my local Saturday market dont take cash any more. But some of the technology involved in digital payments may be beyond the capability of our smallest charities; and even if it isnt, platforms that encourage rounding up or supplementing a purchase might more likely emphasise large household name charities. If we shift from loose change, let’s use it as an opportunity to level the playing field for donations between large and small charities.

Don’t throw it away!

And finally – what most surprised me about the consultation was that people are literally throwing their 1p and 2p coins in the bin. There are so many charities out there that would put them to good use, just as we did with our ‘first fivers’ and ‘last tenners’. Give them to a charity that you love!

Rather than throwing away money why not keep it and give it to charity? Or me? 

by Karl Wilding @ NCVO

Austerity will have cast an extra 1.5m children into poverty by 2021.

Lone-parents, disabled children and ethnic minorities will be among worst-hit, says EHRC.

An extra 1.5 million children will have been pitched into poverty by 2021 as a consequence of the government’s austerity programme, according to a study of the impact of tax and benefit policy by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The EHRC study forecasts dramatic increases in poverty rates among children in lone parent and minority ethnic households, families with disabled children and households with three or more children.

There are clear winners and losers from austerity tax and benefits changes since 2010, the study says. The regressive nature of the policies means that low-income families have been hit hardest: the poorest fifth will lose 10% of income by 2021, while the wealthiest fifth will see little or no change.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said: “It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty.”

The commission called on the government to reconsider existing policies that hit the most disadvantaged groups hardest, and to review social security benefit levels to ensure they provide an adequate standard of living.

The study says the negative financial impacts are largely driven by the four-year freeze on working-age benefits from April 2016, cuts to disability benefits and reductions to work allowances in universal credit.

The findings include:

  • Children in 62% of lone parent households will be in poverty in 2021, compared to 37% in 2010. Lone parent households will lose an average of £5,250 – a fifth of their income.
  • The largest increases in child poverty measured by ethnic group will be in Pakistani families (up almost a fifth), while Bangladeshi households will lose £4,400 on average.
  • Households with a disabled adult and a disabled child will shoulder annual cash losses of just over £6,500, equivalent to 13% of their net income. Disabled lone parents with a disabled child stand to lose £10,000 a year.

The study, which was carried out by the economists Jonathan Portes and Howard Reed, examined the cumulative impact on different groups of changes to income tax, VAT, national insurance, social security benefits, tax credits, universal credit and the national living wage.

It concludes that although changes to taxes and benefits were a clear consequence of the government’s commitment since 2010 to reduce the deficit, it was not inevitable that the most vulnerable groups would bear the heaviest burden, and that the precise mix of changes was a political choice.

A government spokesperson said the report did not take into account many changes made since 2010. “Automatic enrolment pension saving and near record employment are just two issues which contribute enormously to people’s lives but are not reflected in the analysis,” they said.

Original story here:

Save the Family awarded monies from Waitrose Chester

This afternoon Save the Family received a cheque for £440 from Tracy Crump – Community Matters Champion at Waitrose Chester.
Save the Family were nominated for Waitrose’s Community Matters project by Peter Wood and Roger Davey from local band ‘Old School’.
We also received a £30 donation from Christleton WI.
Representing Save the Family were Dan Read (Events & Fundraising Coordinator and John Church (Chairman).

What to do if you see a homeless person sleeping rough in the snow

This week will be freezing, with parts of Britain feeling colder than the Arctic circle. For most of us, heavy snow is an inconvenience due to slippery pavements and the inevitable transport disruption.

If you don’t have a place to sleep, however, it can be deadly. Every time temperatures drop like this, rough sleepers risk their lives just trying to last the night, with the dangers only too real as the sad case of a man who froze to death in Birmingham before Christmas illustrates.

It’s natural to want to help if you see someone struggling – and they probably will appreciate the offer of a hot drink or some food. But what they really need is a place to get out of the rough weather – and you can provide this by alerting homelessness charity StreetLink to their location.

Emergency shelters have opened in London this week because of the cold, so the best thing you can do is make sure outreach volunteers know how to find anyone who may need them.

StreetLink A simple way to help someone who is homeless is to give the charity StreetLink details about when and where you saw them, so they know where to go on their patrols.

Volunteers go out every night in winter looking for people sleeping rough, to make contact with them and offer them a warm bed for the night.

The scheme is funded by charities including St Mungo’s, and cold periods like this week are an important time for a reminder.

StreetLink operates across England and Wales*, so you can get in touch with them about rough sleepers anywhere in these two countries. To make a report, give as much detail as possible about what the person looked like and the place where you saw them to help the outreach teams find them.

Your report could lead to a homeless person getting a warm bed for the night and allow them to receive long-term support back into accommodation and work.



How to help homeless people during the cold spell – and beyond

Emergency shelters have been opened for the homeless as freezing conditions and heavy snowfall hit the UK.

The special measures, which come into effect when temperatures plummet below zero, allow councils across Britain to offer extra accommodation for people living on the streets.

Charities warn that the extreme weather could be deadly for those forced to spend the night outside. They are urging members of the public to help assist those in need.

“Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous, but when temperatures drop, lives are at risk,” says Petra Salva, director of outreach services at St Mungo’s.

“It’s vital that we get help to people quickly so we can save lives, but also, in the longer term, find people permanent accommodation and the space to recover,” she adds.

Here’s how you can help:
  • If you see someone in need of urgent medical attention, dial 999 immediately.
  • Let rough sleepers know that emergency shelters are open as they may be unaware that the extra services are running.
  • Send an alert to Streetlink, a charity which connects rough sleepers in England and Wales to local agencies who can help find them a warm bed for the night.

You can do this on their websitemobile app, or by phoning 0300 500 0914. “It is important, if you have been able to speak to them, that you get their consent to do this,” says the Press Association, as some people may be uncomfortable giving their details to local authorities.

  • Give cash directly to homeless people, or offer to buy them a blanket, a cup of tea, or a hot meal. A friendly chat is always welcome, too.
  • You can also offer to donate money to charities working to end homelessness or volunteer and campaign with them directly. “Your power to help homeless people extends far beyond individual actions and encounters,” says the charity Shelter.

Half Term Fun


Our resident children have really enjoyed the half-term activities which included trips to Wepre Park, Storyhouse and Cathedral Falcons. It’s important for us to help the children and young people socialise and gain new experiences and memories while living at our residential site.

Good Governance

Recent unfortunate events in the charity sector have focused on the Governance and Risk Management measures required to protect charities from mismanagement and the associated  risks.  Charities have grown from the hard work of inspirational leaders that have the passion to help others in a wide variety of sectors and what is increasingly evident is that they need to be considered and run as businesses.  They need to be sure that they have strong governance and risk management in place as well as the necessary and appropriate policies.

At Save the Family, about 5 years ago when I took over as Chief Executive, as an early priority, I identified the need to strengthen  governance.  Whilst we had a strong board of trustees, I knew we had the opportunity to build on this.

Using my business experience I  introduced four new strategic Board Sub Committees, each to be chaired by an appropriate trustee and with at least two trustees on each committee.  These cover Finance & Audit, Marketing & Fundraising, HR and Health & Safety and very importantly a Families Sub Committee.  The trustees who chair these committees take ownership of the agenda and running of these committees and provide a strong level of assurance and understanding of the operational day to day work of the charity

Alongside good governance there also needs to be an effective Risk Management Assurance Plan in place to ensure that the Board are managing the key risks to the Charity.

When I stepped down as the Chief Executive and returned to the Board of Trustees as Chairman, it was important for me to reinforce the disciplines of the new governance structure and that has ensured that the risks exposed by the collapse of Kids Company and those currently being managed by Oxfam and Save the Children have been mitigated and avoided. Save the Family is often confused with Save the Children and we have no connection with Save the Children or the issues they may have recently encountered.

The supporters and funders of Save the Family can be assured that the charity is properly governed and well led by a strong Board of Trustees.  Funders also need to recognise that good governance is a necessary overhead and allow for this when examining the financial overheads of a well  governed charity.  Your continued support is very much valued and appreciated.

John Church


 We believe in keeping families together – do YOU?

Every rough sleeper is the product of political decisions. Stop criminalising them. By Dawn Foster @ The Guardian

It’s impossible to spend any stretch of time outside at the moment without noticing two things: the bitter cold and the seemingly unstinting rise in street homelessness. Winter is always the hardest period for rough sleepers because of the climate and the post-Christmas dip in generosity towards anyone begging. And there’s a genuine risk to life for anyone having to sleep out as temperatures plummet. The rise in tents appearing in Leeds, Manchester, all over London, and in many towns and cities across the country is an attempt to stave off the cold and sleep more safely.

Rough sleepers may find it comes at a cost, though. More than one in 10 councils have been found to use legislative powers to create public space protection orders, which means behaviour can be criminalised in certain areas. The powers are usually used to combat visible street homelessness: recent examples include Windsor, the borough castigated for seeking to clear homeless people out of the area to make way for the royal wedding, which proposes to fine people £100 on the spot for begging, leaving bedding in public or requesting money, and Stoke-on-Trent’s consultation on whether to fine people sleeping in car parks and doorways. Under a PSPO, anyone who fails to pay a £100 penalty could face a summary conviction and a £1,000 fine. Meanwhile, Westminster council has asked wealthier homeowners to pay a voluntary “tax” of around £833 to fund projects to help young people and combat the homelessness problem in the borough.

These initiatives come at the problem differently, but both start at the endpoint: by the time someone is on the streets, many opportunities to prevent their homelessness have been missed. The reason rough sleeper numbers have risen 169% since 2010 is because of a perfect storm created by this government: welfare cuts to individuals; austerity measures starving councils of resources; and now the rollout of universal credit, which has increased evictions and shrunk the amount of support available for peoplebefore or after they lose their home.

Focusing only on street homelessness is resource-intensive, and acts after the rough sleeper has already endured significant hardship and trauma. Acting before people are homeless makes far more sense, economically and for the long-term wellbeing of a household. Yet the rights of the landlord to collect rent are always put ahead of the person about to lose a roof over their head.

Supporting people to stay in their homes is surely a better method of reducing homelessness than acting after the fact. Homelessness is allowed to happen, and rough sleepers are then demonised: the public told not to offer change lest you feed a habit; homeless people abused or attacked in public, and then criminalised by councils and the police, as though a few legal threats will convince someone to stop sleeping in a tent in a park and instead rent a studio flat nearby.

It remains incredibly hard to get off the streets once you begin sleeping rough. For too long the government has behaved as though homeless people appear from nowhere. Every rough sleeper is the product of political decisions that have created a safety net riddled with gaping holes. No one wants to sleep outdoors in sub-zero temperatures, but far too many will, while politicians continue to cut welfare provision and bludgeon councils with austeritymeasures.