May update on Covid-19

A May update from our CEO, Jason Suckley

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In April, I said that the communities we are all part of are more important than ever before and that we’d need each other’s help to get through this hugely challenging period. I also told you about the 2000 children whose #WishesAreWaiting and that we are fundraising where we can to support our £2.7m loss in income. And I shared that we were in the early stages of thinking about the longer-term impacts of the virus on our charity, and how we might need to change and reshape as restrictions on movement are gradually eased.

One thing has remained firm in our hearts and minds over these past weeks –the 2000 children whose wishes are waiting, and all those to come. In recent years, we have improved our understanding of how wishes can enable a child to thrive and to look beyond survival. We now need to do the same. We need to survive and thrive.

We need to find new ways to generate income, to engage communities of volunteers and to enable the imagination of children to develop wish experiences that can change lives during and beyond the period of Covid. We need to ensure that the relationships we have with our volunteers, supporters and partners provide a strong legacy for wish children, long after this global crisis is past. Our sense of shared purpose is the key to us granting the wishes of the 2000 children who are waiting.

With this in mind, we are using this time to review our approach to how we generate income and gift-in-kind donations; to identify opportunities for volunteers to play an increased role across a broader range of wishes, to develop tools and systems in support of this and to establish an organisational structure that can enable us to grant impactful wishes in a financially sustainable way.

We realise, that, in order to be a stronger Make-A-Wish UK, we will have to make some hard choices along the way. We face, as many other charities and businesses do, the painful reality of consulting with bright, engaged and committed colleagues about what this might mean for roles. As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, our children are not forgotten. They’re the beating heart of the organisation and even as we’re in this situation incredible things are happening.

Earlier this month we held our first STARboard meeting – our children and young people’s advisory group. It was a virtual rather than physical meeting of course, but no less successful for it. This group helped advise us on another project – the generous gifts to children whose wishes are waiting, from supermarket chain Morrisons. This initiative has seen more than 1700 surprise packs delivered to children in England, Scotland and Wales who are waiting for their wish. You can see some of the inspiring children and their lovely reactions on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

You might also enjoy watching some of the beautiful messages shared by children and volunteers which we created for World Wish Day at the end of April. You can view this on YouTube.

Through this period there will be things we can do, things we can’t do and things that we will have to do completely differently. I think we’ve all realised by now that there will be no ‘going back to normal’. Our challenge is to create a Make-A-Wish UK, that is more relevant and more impactful than ever before to the world around us and to the lives of children with a critical illness. It is a challenge that I’m confident we will meet.

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Find out more about STARboard - our new Children and Young People's Board.

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