A home looking after 86 islanders with learning disabilities has issued a plea for public support, after the pandemic struck a serious blow to its finances, and the government deemed it ineligible for support.
The latest charity casualty of many in recent months, Les Amis has been forced to cancel all of its fundraising events due to lockdown, leaving it struggling to fund care for its residents – some of whom require 24-hour residential support.
Les Amis has also been deemed “ineligible” for the Government’s Payroll Co-Funding Scheme, due to the fact that the care costs and rent for the charity’s residents are already covered by the Long-Term Care Contributions they receive. However, the fundraising costs normally cover other provisions such as transport, work clothes, furniture and leisure activities which are not funded by these contributions.
Ordinarily, Les Amis organises a number of major fundraising events throughout the year – including having a presence at the Battle of Flowers, the Island Walk as well as its own Family Fun Day and the annual VW Camper Van Raffle.
Pictured: The cancellation of the Battle of Flowers has also hampered the charity's fundraising efforts.
Unfortunately, all of these events have had to be cancelled as a result of the pandemic and to ensure the health and safety of its residents and staff are protected. The charity says that without this fundraising activity or support from Government, it “has been relying solely on the generous donations of islanders and organisations” to keep its care going.
Les Amis has also incurred additional costs due to covid-19, including in-house IT purchases to help residents stay connected with their families and friends and sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff. As well as all of these essentials, the charity requires funding to purchase various materials for residents’ activities, which help them learn new skills, such as arts and crafts and gardening.
Commenting on the challenges they face, Managing Director of Les Amis, Shaun Findlay said: “Charities have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic and we have had to make a number of changes in order to continue operating in a way which best supports our residents and staff. Our aim to provide quality services to support people with learning disabilities and associated conditions is still our main priority during these challenging times.
“Having to cancel all our fundraising activities is having a major impact on our finances, which is why we need the support of islanders more than ever before to move forward and provide a quality of life to our residents. Once again, we would like to thank islanders for their ongoing support during this crisis.”
Les Amis is not the only charitable organisation that has spoken out about their struggles during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The Chief Executive of Jersey Hospice Care previously told Express that the future of local charities hangs in the balance unless islanders and the government significantly step up their support.
Sadly, Emelita Robbins’s prediction proved prescient, as a number of local charities have issued their own appeals for funding and help during the pandemic.
The Jersey Community Partnership (JCP) report that funding for local charities took a nosedive of 55% due to covid, whilst many have been experiencing higher demand for their services.
Express’s partner charity for 2020, Jersey Action Against Rape (JAAR), is among those affected as a representative of the service indicated the number of people getting in touch with the charity rocketed during lockdown – a trend they expect to continue even after restrictions are lifted.
Headway revealed that they had lost £100,000 due to covid-19 and the cancellation of events, as they took their annual 10K race online.
Pictured: The JCP has recorded a 55% nosedive in funding for charities as demand for their services skyrockets.
Wetwheels Jersey, a charity that enables disabled and disadvantaged passengers to go on tailored sailing tours of the island’s coastline, has also been struggling whilst lockdown has affected both operations and fundraising.
Dina Cook, Director of Operations, has vowed that the virus won’t stand in the way of them delivering their charity’s vision. She said: “While we can’t do everything we would usually do, now we are approved to get back out on the water there is still plenty we can offer. We’ve introduced additional safety measures on board – for example sanitising and cleaning equipment before every trip and sadly at the moment we cannot take wheelchair passengers. Fishing is suspended and we aren’t allowing visits to the cabin or to drive the boat. But our passengers can still feel the exhilaration of the wind in their hair and the sea spray on their face – and for many that is what a trip on Wetwheels is about.
“This hasn’t been an easy time for anyone but now we are back up and running we want to carry as many people as we safely can. I’d love to hear from groups, families or schools who want to explore on Wetwheels, and of course we are also hoping to attract more funding and donations to make sure 2021 is better than ever.”
It was initially thought that a £50m funding pot announced ahead of lockdown would be made available for local charities, but this remains unused and has since been renamed the ‘Jersey Recovery Fund’ and it geared towards economic recovery measures.
More recently, Senator Ian Gorst released £2m worth of funding from dormant bank accounts to support charities.
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