Statement to Members in Lieu of AGM Postponed from 23 Jan 21.
This statement is produced, agreed and published on the FCDC Webpage by the Trustees in lieu of the AGM that had been planned to take place via Zoom on 28 Jan 21.
The aim of this statement is to give FCDC Members a view of the activities that took place during 2020 and at the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic. At the end of the statement will be a link to the FCDC Accounts which were approved and submitted to the Charities Commission on 8 Jan 21.
Most of you will know that the Big Lottery generously awarded us a grant in January 2020, following notification of our application being a success in December the previous year. This grant was to be given to the Charity in tranches every 6 months and to be used in a defined way as per the application that was submitted. One major stipulation of the Grant was that the post of Interim Manager was to be advertised and candidate appointed by April 2020. More of that later.
While we had a good start to our projects early in the year, as we are all well aware things immediately came to a halt in the first lock down in March, and we were suddenly like everyone else unable to run any activities. We maintained communication and a sense of community and support to families at a time when it was really needed, via social media and twice weekly Zoom meetings, a novelty to some but soon to become the norm, which were open to any family to join. We had an active counsellor, in Shelley, offering professional advice and support via posts and video links and we ran a weekly quiz for all the families to join in.
But with the challenges of our first year of funding coinciding with a pandemic, all our work has been affected. Some projects we have been able to adapt to the current circumstances, while others we have not been able to deliver at all. Some have taken some time to be able to convert to online support and others have been more difficult to maintain online.
We were unable to offer kids activities until we were again allowed to meet up over the summer months, when sports and kids’ activities were allowed. But we were still very restricted on family events as well as kids’ activities, and numbers had to be kept to a minimum. We arranged for small groups to meet for walks in the park, and again organised activity sessions with Mojo Active.
Our New Year newsletter at the end of this summary gives a fuller breakdown of our year last year and is provided to once again remind readers of the activities that took place during this very difficult year.
After a difficult summer the Trustees decided that they must resolve the lack of progress to appoint a permanent Centre Manager and accordingly the post was advertised internally, but with no one wanting to apply for the post, the position was advertised externally in October. Four high quality candidates responded with sufficient interest and detail to be taken forward for interview and three were subsequently interviewed with two taken to a second interview. Helen Davies was identified as the candidate most meeting the needs of the Charity and was offered the post. Helen joined us on 4 Jan 21 and began a 6-week handover period with Emma Stevenson. Emma formally relinquished her role as Interim Manager on 12 Feb 21, thereby fulfilling her obligation to the Big Lottery to oversee the successful transition to a permanent Manager position being created. The Trustees are forever grateful, to Emma, for her hard work, dedication and commitment to the Charity particularly during the difficult transition years on 2016 to 2019 when it was uncertain how the Charity would survive. The Trustees now welcome Helen Davies to the Charity and wish her all the best in delivering the outcomes of the Charity to the benefit of all families impacted by deafness.
Over the next few months and as the restrictions due to Coronavirus permit, the Charity, with Helen driving us forward, will develop a strategy which can deliver to meet the needs of our members. We will be looking to promote face to face activities in the coming months as restrictions lift, but in the mean time will endeavour to maintain close contact with members as best we can.
We will continue to provide emotional support in the form of counselling, from Shelley Frost. While some sessions have been able to be delivered online and work well, for some parents this is not suitable. In addition, the Deaf families at home project has been very restricted with the inability to meet with families.
BSL courses have moved online and delivered via Zoom by a highly experienced tutor and the take up of this has been good and remarkably and to everyone’s credit, people are enjoying learning, in what can be a difficult environment.
In accordance with AGM requirements, at a recent Trustee Committee meeting, all current Trustees agreed to be re-elected and as a final task, to close her duties as Interim Manager Emma Stevenson was to submit our application for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) to the Charity Commission.
Finally, our published and agreed accounts can be view via this link Constitution, Accounts & Policies | The Family Centre (Deaf Children) (fcdc.org.uk)
Please see a slightly different perspective to the previous year below which is published again!
Well what a year! I am sure we are all looking forward to seeing the hope that the New Year brings; if not happening immediately, we do hope we are near the end of this pandemic and the impact it has had on everything! What started off as a great year for us at FCDC with our newly agreed lottery funding in January very soon became a very challenging to continue with, following the March shutdown. Though thank goodness we live in time where so many things can be done online!
As we look back on 2020 we had a very busy first few months of the year with several family events and kids activities. We started the year with our AGM back in January and the announcement of our new funding from the lottery that will now fund events and activities until March 2024.
In February we met with Bristol Bears for our busy monthly coffee morning, how long ago those days seem! Some of our families were lucky enough to then have free tickets to go and watch them in action a few weeks later in March. We enjoyed some time back on the BMX track with our friends at Access Sport over half term and we went bowling with a mix of young and old children and all their parents. We took a group of families to the SS Great Britain and enjoyed a fabulous tour round with an expert guide full of information about all of its history, answering all our questions.
In March we managed our coffee morning with the excellent dance teacher Lottie from Funk it Up then beyond that it was working from home and moving as much as possible online, our Kids activities and family days out and all our planned parties had to be cancelled.
April’s Easter Egg hunt was a via Zoom. We continued with Wednesday Zooms with Shelley for any families who wanted a chance to catch up and take a pause from the home schooling and we had some lovely catch up through those otherwise really worrying and uncertain times for everyone.
Through May and June we did Friday quizzes and had some fun with some topical questions. With things opening up in July we were able to think about some outdoor activities for the children and we had a couple of excellent sessions at Mojo Active and a lovely morning of outdoor activities and survival skills at Goblin Combe. It was lovely to see families again in the outdoor spaces of July and August and being able to meet up again was so appreciated by everyone.
We walked and explored Blaise castle and Ashton Court, benefiting from the outdoors and walking in new places, being one of the things that a lot of us have done more of this year!
September saw the return to school for all our children and some normality for many! We started out beginner courses of BSL via Zoom which has been a lovely group, well tested through the challenges of learning through a video link but all have made amazing progress and got to know each other to create a supportive team environment!
Throughout October we managed to get back to Mojo active each Sunday with a lovely group of families and were so lucky with the weather each time. It’s always so lovely to see children in these groups who’ve not met before getting along so well and supporting each other so brilliantly in their team work. These sessions also give really valuable time for parents to catch up with others.
November restrictions being applied to our areas again and we were limited in what we could do once again.
Although we managed to go ahead with our annual trip to the Avon Valley and the Santa Train in December it was quite a different experience this year – with the train ride itself being postponed until later in the year. But the children and the families all had a lovely time on the platform with the donkeys, the snow, the train beside them on the platform and Father Christmas to visit. With hot chocolate available also, it was still a very “Christmassy” experience! and we got to see other families again even if from a distance!
Our amazing counsellor Shelley has continued to support more parents throughout this year, through all means of communications from meeting in person when allowed, to online meetings and there have been many more video calls this year. Though it doesn’t suit everyone many have adapted very well to this and the convenience of it. But she has also been available through text and email for any FCDC member parents to listen to any concerns and support where able. All of our parents will continue to be entitled to a free course of counselling throughout 2021, to help with any issue they feel counselling would benefit.
We are now back in a situation of not being allowed to meet up but we hope we can see that this year will eventually bring a return to our old normal of being able to meet up again in whatever numbers, inside and out, and which we hope we are nearer to each day! Therefore we look forward to a positive 2021 which brings an end to tiers and social distancing, and such worrying headlines and where families and friends can get back together, appreciating togetherness so much more, and we can hold a lot more events in person in any number of groups!