As we approach the end of Trustees’ week Debbie Springford and Dr Cecilia Hughes discuss what is has been like for them as trustees, working to support Jigsaw (South East) during these unprecedented times.
DS: The idea of living through a pandemic is one that had never crossed my mind. Yet, that is precisely where we all found ourselves back in March, and the reality of what this meant for every single aspect of our daily lives slowly started to sink in. For charities, the minute lockdown was introduced, the risk to income and operations appeared startling, with projections that charities could suffer up to 48% drop in voluntary income against predicted increases of 43% in demand for services. It was clear we had a challenge on our hands.
CH: The trustees started meeting weekly with our management team online to plan how we could continue our work supporting children and their families without having face-to-face contact, and keep our monies coming in, with all community fundraising activities cancelled.
We all quickly became adept at virtual meetings, muting and unmuting on calls and the etiquette online. There were some very tough decisions at first with furloughing and reducing hours for staff when we were unsure of the impact on our income. Our management team worked very hard at supporting our staff to work remotely and stay connected during uncertain times. The team also swung into applying for emergency grants and innovative ideas for fundraising.
DS: I can honestly say the board and the management team stayed calm, and we worked as a team throughout. As the weeks of lockdown turned into months, we started to see the fruits of our efforts. Covid funding materialised, novel fundraising ideas took off and most importantly, we continued to provide a service to bereaved families, albeit adapted, using technology and where possible, meeting families outdoors observing social distancing measures.
CH: We were well supported with the community locally and the bereavement community nationally, which really helped with pulling together and sharing ideas. It was much harder work for the trustees than usual with the number of meetings and decisions needing to be made at pace. However, I would say it has brought the trustees closer together with the management team and the wider team.
We had our annual trustee staff awayday virtually, with most of the team managing to join in. My IT skills have improved considerably, I’ve been involved with two rounds of recruitment carried out entirely online. I’ve also delivered some training to the team on a webinar!
DS: Resilience and resourcefulness in the face of challenge sum up the entire Jigsaw team during these difficult eight months, and I feel very humbled by the efforts of everyone as this Covid storm continues. We have to stay alert to Covid, and its implications for the charity, but in addition to adapting and managing the present, we are balancing this with the needs of the future. I am delighted that we have appointed two new trustees and for the first time, a Charity Director, all bringing a unique set of skills, experiences and perspectives which will serve us well as we continue to navigate our way through Covid and beyond.
CH: It has been a tough time for everyone with very sadly a lot of deaths for people across the country. We are still living through this, and I am proud to be part of a charity that is supporting children and their families through bereavement, as this seems more important than ever.
DS & CH: We thank all the staff for their amazing efforts and look forward to working with them on the challenges ahead.
Find out more about all of our trustees here.