Where we are now - a statement from Jenny Carroll

September 23 2020

Where we are now - a statement from Jenny Carroll, Centre Director and Consultant Physiotherapist.

As the impact of Covid-19 hit the UK in March, and we entered lockdown, the charity immediately entered the most fragile financial period it has known to date. Shattering losses were to follow and at several points the immediate future for the charity looked bleak.

During lockdown, a loss of £47,000 a month due to the closure of our five shops, and a halt to many our fundraising activities, including our annual Ball worth £20k, meant that our reserves would only last another few months. We furloughed around 70% of our staff and predicted a devastating 44% drop in anticipated income for the year. 

At the same time, we knew that we needed to keep going. Over 600 children and families living with cerebral palsy depended on us.  

Children who have cerebral palsy are vulnerable, and families who have a child with cerebral palsy are already socially and economically disadvantaged. In ‘normal’ circumstances they are one of the communities most in need. During lockdown, and right now, their needs were and are greater than ever. 

Cerebral Palsy Cymru has always been an essential service, but with many NHS community therapists redeployed to the frontline, we became more essential than ever. Within days of the lockdown, we had re-invented our very ‘hands on’ and face to face, specialist therapy service to a virtual one via video call - with just six of our most senior therapists who were still working. 

Since the 23rd March we have provided 218 therapy interventions and family support sessions; virtually, over the phone and more recently face to face, helping 88 children and their families. For families, particularly those who have given birth during lockdown and whose babies are at high risk, this help has been a lifeline. A mum of a two week old baby, said “Last week helped us so much, we don’t feel so alone now so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” 

We know we can make a significant difference in a child’s life; improving their future outcomes and enabling them to be as independent as possible. This is why the pandemic has not just shattered our finances but is in danger of shattering our dreams as a charity too.  

For years our dream has been to open a new, purpose-built children’s centre; befitting of a centre of excellence with the capacity to be able to see many more children and families in Wales who need us. Currently we are unable to see all the children on our caseload, even once a year.  

In November 2019 we were awarded a life-changing grant of £1.5million from the Welsh Government to purchase a new children’s centre. We completed the purchase in March 2020 and were about to start a capital appeal to raise the funds needed to transform the building into an exceptional facility for children with cerebral palsy. 

We have now, thanks to recent sources of emergency funding, been able to stabilise the charity financially for the next 6 months. However, the crisis has meant that we have had to make essential staff, including therapists, redundant and vastly scale down the work on the new centre. Even with these painful cuts, which will mean we will see fewer children, we are still facing a £100,000 deficit next year. We do not want to have to reduce our service any further. 

The founder parents of the charity fought 28 years ago to establish a dedicated specialist centre for children with cerebral palsy in Wales. We are now fighting to keep that centre here for the future.  

Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in children, with approximately 70 babies born every year in Wales who will have the condition. We know we can make a difference to each one of those lives, and to those children yet to be born, if we have the funding to do so. 

As a mum of a 2 ½ year old boy said recently, “Cerebral Palsy Cymru gave us something to focus on when all hope was gone.” 

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