COVID-19 and Make-A-Wish UK

An update from our CEO, Jason Suckley

Please note: this update was posted on 16th March. You can view the latest situation update here.

We’re all concerned about coronavirus. At Make-A-Wish UK, it's something we are taking very seriously as we face a catalogue of situations which put the charity in a very difficult position.

Children who are seriously ill are often immunocompromised and are in the high-risk groups which need to take extra care not to catch infections.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Make-A-Wish is having to make similar decisions to those that our wish families make every day. How do we mitigate the risk of infection? How can we budget for months of uncertainty? How do we prepare for weeks of isolation from others? What can we look forward to once that isolation is over? It’s given us an even greater insight into the challenges faced by the families we support.

We have had to cancel many wishes. At this point we’re not even sure when we will be able to book many of these wish experiences again. No one can be sure when it will be safe enough for poorly children to travel again. No one is clear when travel providers may be able to offer experiences in the future.

This presents us with many issues to address. We already have a very high demand for our services. 60% more children year on year are turning to us for a wish. We have had 1500 enquiries since January alone.

For the first time in our history, we are having to suspend the ability to apply for a wish. This is not something we do lightly – wishes are who we are and what we do.

On top of this, the income we generate to help us grant wishes all comes from generous individual and corporate donations. We receive no government funding. Our full and active fundraising programme engages many people in lots of different ways. This too is at risk because of COVID-19 with events being cancelled or postponed (quite rightly) to mitigate for the virus risks to everyone.

The postponement and cancellation of some of our flagship fundraising events means around £1m of our fundraising income is under threat due to the coronavirus. This means our ability to grant children’s wishes is also under threat.

Wishes are priceless, impactful, meaningful experiences that influence children for years but how we deliver those experiences is not priceless. 

As a charity, we need to make robust financial decisions that serve our mission for today’s children but also serve the children who will turn to us in the future. There is no escaping the reality that cancellation fees, sunk costs and the costs of rebooking wishes will have on us.

Couple this with the potential loss of income from fundraising events and we now face some of our most challenging financial times. We need your help.

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