A fundraising father has opened up about the personal experiences that led him to dedicate years of support local charities focused on disability and baby loss in the hope of inspiring others to join his latest initiative.
Robert Kelly is well known for his support of Jersey MenCap, as his late daughter Rachael was born with multiple severe learning difficulties.
Rob and his wife, Sue, have also suffered loss through miscarriage, so the work of Philip’s Footprints resonates with them. For the past six years, he has contributed to their Lights of Love remembrance services through poetry readings.
His latest initiative to give back to charities with personal significance to him was to start a 'salary sacrifice scheme' at his work, TEAM Asset Management, so staff could donate some of their salary to Jersey charities over the festive period.
Express spoke to Rob about his own experiences, and the importance of giving back...
Our daughter Rachael was totally dependent on us for all daily activities – washing, dressing, feeding. At the time our involvement with Jersey MenCap started, we were looking to the future to ensure there was appropriate care and living facilities available, as the States of Jersey did not provide any such options and we knew we would not live forever. Les Amis did not exist as an independent charity and Jersey MenCap were providing homes for independent living but could not have catered for Rachael’s needs.
Jersey MenCap has increased its activities over the years as more people with learning difficulties have become more independent. They now run a variety of programmes – Taking Part Making Art, with sessions run daily; the award winning Pond Project; the Book Club; the Social club. Rachael only accessed the Social Club, in particular the discos, as she loved music and the flashing lights.
My wife Sue has been Treasurer for Jersey MenCap for 30 years. My focus has been on assisting with fundraising activities, helping out behind the scenes, and I am always inspired by the clients' attitude and joy when I attend the sessions I can.
Without Jersey MenCap so many people would be isolated as they would have no social activities or skill building opportunities. Jersey MenCap have partnered with Liberty Bus and the States of Jersey Police to enable the clients to have the confidence to use the bus and engage with authorities when needed. Also, by providing these opportunities, families and carers have some time to socialise and carry out daily activities they otherwise would have found difficult.
After Rachael passed away in 2012 I started writing poetry as a cathartic exercise.
Philip’s Footprints came to my attention through a Facebook post when they were appealing for someone to read poetry at their annual Lights of Love service. I offered my services and poems and Jo Nash [the charity’s founder] was delighted to accept.
Pictured: Philip's Footprints holds an annual Lights of Love candlelit service for bereaved parents to reflect and remember their baby or child.
As a family we have not had much involvement with the charity as it was not in existence when we experienced miscarriage, but their aims and the services they have provided to improve pre-natal care and support individual families through loss is crucial.
When I joined TEAM in April, I wanted to increase my personal charitable giving but I was keen that it should not be about me. As the firm was under new management and very small in staff numbers, I approached the Chairman to initiate a scheme so I could make a personal donation through a salary sacrifice arrangement.
I also asked that the company’s pension contributions for me be accumulated and these funds will also be used for charitable donations in the future. A fund is being built up we had to distribute these funds for tax purposes.
I am very proud to have initiated this scheme at TEAM and delighted that the first distribution is to these two charities which do such great work in the community.
I hope our small effort will inspire other companies to initiate similar schemes and help vulnerable people in our community when they need it most.
TEAM has now donated £750 to both Jersey MenCap and Philip’s Footprints.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.
There are no comments for this article.