Although I have been very much a part of the development of the charity over the last 2 years, this is my first blog as Chief Executive and as such I wanted to highlight some of the exceptional things this organisation has been able to do for our families, staff, volunteers and partners, since the last blog.
Where to start…………. I think perhaps I’ll begin by announcing that our previous Chief Executive is now the Chair of our Board. This makes me happy, as John and I have been working together tirelessly for 2 years to bring to fruition our shared vision for Save the Family and we are now able to continue that work and in the same vein. So – Welcome (again) John and I look forward to working with you in a strategic capacity, to deliver what we set out to do 12-18 months ago!
There have been many changes in the last few months and I expect there will be constant changes for some time to come, as we grow further into a professional, effective and focused charitable organisation.
We have achieved a great deal recently, starting with recruiting to key posts, many funded by external funders (and for that we are eternally grateful). We have also forged stronger relationships with our partners and begun an Enterprise and Community Engagement project (Matt may regret taking on this role!).
We have engaged with our volunteers in a much stronger and more effective way; Charlene supports us with letter writing to key contacts, proof reading and support with inductions and safety in the gym, Josie is working on developing important corporate relationships and Mike constantly excels in our allotments, even teaching our families how to grow their own vegetables and how to better understand wildlife and Margaret has been a fervent volunteer for many, many years and consistently helps us with thanking our supporters and donors. These are just a few of our remarkable volunteers, whom we will endeavour to develop in a way that meets their needs and the needs of our families.
We have developed a range of supportive activities for our families and the community, allowing individuals to design, create, paint and even sell items, produced in our workshop and craft room. We now have our volunteers, Roger and John helping to create a full workshop environment on-site, where they impart their knowledge and specialist skills.
Nicky has introduced a young person’s timetable, to include circuit training, football and other sporting activities; also other more sedentary activities for some!
We have engaged further with government and developed relationships with organisations which provide work readiness and work experience opportunities, as well as providing such opportunities ourselves, including gardening, cooking, crafting, woodworking, facilities support, donations sorting and cleaning.
Of course, to maintain the site and improve our services to families, we must strive to bring in funding. John stated in his last blog “My fervent prayer mentioned in my last blog remains. It is that government will recognise and take responsibility for underpinning the charity sector to help deliver the promise of Big Society”. This is also my wish and now my belief that there are routes to achieving this, this year. Watch this space…
One of the challenges for any charity is to maintain a good reputation and this must be driven by achievements. We have introduced better systems to monitor the effectiveness of our work (so we can prove we do what we say we do!) and we are evaluating our work, with support from key partners and from The Cabinet Office. Hopefully, this work will evidence what we already know, which is that there is a desperate need for our services across Cheshire and beyond. John mentioned also in his last blog that the cost of our care system in England was very high and that Save the Family could deliver effective services for far less, whilst in many cases keeping the family together. This is our mantra with government and is now proving to be a valuable approach, particularly when considering Social Investment.
All-in-all we now have a better equipped team, frontline and back-office, who are ready and able to deal with our families at a very real level. We are developing our staff and volunteers in an inclusive way, enabling them to better understand and serve our families and the community. The combination of heart and head is required for our work and I feel so lucky that each day I meet people who demonstrate the values, which we hold so dear. One day we may be representing the families’ needs in court and discussing how parents have engaged and learned to better interact with statutory agencies; the next we will be providing a calming hand in their homes, in some sort of family chaos, having a coffee and a chat. This is all part of a day’s work, here at Save the Family.
I am forever grateful to our Board for giving me this opportunity to lead a charity with such a massive heart and a massive presence too; what other local charity could fill a cathedral to celebrate 40 years of good work – only one with a much larger presence and much larger challenge on its hands.
I am comfortable in the knowledge that my management team will help me to provide the leadership the charity needs, to secure key funding and key relationships within government and to ensure our services meet the needs of our families, which after all is why I and many at Save the Family come to work in the mornings!
Lastly and importantly, may I take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers, supporters, funders, partners and staff; without you all, Save the Family would not be able to rise to this challenge and many, many families would not have the life chances that we are able to offer them.