BUT HOW HAS IT AFFECTED ME&DEE?I received as many congratulation messages for the Governments announcements of millions of pounds of support for small charities to warrant a wedding announcement. The reality is – this did not happen for me&dee. However, we do need to keep fully supporting our vulnerable families, those facing short and uncertain futures.
We are unable to provide our holidays in our Lodge in Sherwood Forest.
This is where our vulnerable families will go for a last holiday as a family or couple together and make their many needed memories together. So, what can we do in the interim? What we are doing is keeping in touch with all 17 families on our waiting list and very sadly, two children and one young parent have died. We think very carefully about siblings and how their lives are affected by the loss of a brother or sister, a parent who is no longer with the family. My phone is on 24/7 and it is not unusual for me to sit with a cuppa in the early hours of the morning for a parent who just needs an ear, someone to talk to, cry to, shout out loud to for their situation, especially in this time of isolation.
We are sending packs out to the children every week. These are craft packs, toys, little indoor tents with blankets and cushions to give a little memory holiday at home in a sense, nicer food packs to supplement those given from the government and flowers. This communication, the knowledge that we are there, the knowledge that at some point, even if it becomes a bereavement holiday rather than a memory holiday, this will still happen, it is still something to look forward to.
70% of our income is from events and in a nutshell, there are not any. We are not a charity who raises so much money, and then that goes into a pot and is used for xyz, we have commitments. Why don’t we match the criteria for grants? I don’t feel this is something that we can blame on the government, it’s far too easy to do this. Let us start with the allocation of the millions of pounds of funds from them. This is distributed from the government to the National Lottery, to local organisations who then further distribute it to successful grant applications. To date, we have not received one single grant. We have tried for 11 and been turned down for 11. One, because we are a registered charity, others because we do not deal with poverty, don’t provide food banks, are not a community interest charity and that list goes on even though all of our families are facing short and uncertain futures. We also have been unsuccessful for any of the business-based grants as our office does not have a ratable value, we pay an inclusive rent. We do not qualify for any grants that we have applied for to cover overheads.
It is a very heavy load to carry and especially in light of my dad dying of Covid 19 and another very close family member leaving her 16 year old son.
So where does this leave us? Despite theories that we have a big team, for the actual 7 day running of me&dee, there are just myself full time unsalaried and Mark my partner, as our one full time member of staff. We had to let our admin support go in early March to cut whatever costs we can. We run on a low administration cost in any case, so that supporters can see exactly where there fundraising is going – to the heart of me&dee and our families. Mark is furloughed and that just leaves me at the helm for running the office, the charity, all of our legal work, fundraising, dozens and dozens of emails and phone calls daily, and looking after our many families to offer them support.
How can you help? There are many ways and a starting point is by looking through our website, www.meanddee.co.uk
You could make us your charity of the year, your preferred charity, hold a fundraiser, offer a service or gift voucher to a family to use when appropriate for a bit of a treat, you can share out our social media posts – this take seconds and would help so much, you can drop me an email for further information.