Our business plan arches 3 years but we review it regularly using various mechanisms such as community and client profiling, reviewing the economic and political landscape, and a variety of other planning measures and indicators. The image below illustrates a profile of our clients during pre- and post-lockdown for example. We regularly gather data in this way to make sure that our services match the demographics of our community.
However, probably the most important review happens in spring each year when we offer an open invitation to volunteers, staff, trustees, patrons, members, and anyone with an interest in the work we do to come along to a workshop to share their ideas and to help shape our key priorities for the coming year.
In March 2018 we agreed the following priorities:
- Changes to benefits such as Universal Credit (UC) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- Research and campaigns e.g. the impact of the new Homelessness Reduction Act.
- Profile raising – recruit volunteers, fundraising, engage with young people and the corporate world.
- Partnership development – maintain and develop outreaches, especially at Addenbrooke’s University Hospital.
- Explore different channels for advice such as webchat and Skype.
Plans for 2021
Improving our online access for clients
We have been working to offer more online services including virtual advice services, for example face-to-face sessions with clients via video. In this way, we can widen access and help people stuck at home due to illness or with no resource to transport, who would not otherwise be able to visit us in person, receive direct, targeted one-to-one advice.
The impact of Covid-19 and future fundraising
The impact of Covid-19 has made us rethink our procedures but we are delivering a FULL service through this crisis and will continue to do so. This means that we are even helping at benefits tribunals over the phone, although not good for vulnerable clients who find it very difficult, at least we are still getting there with very good results.
We continue to look for funding to keep the work going. Worryingly, our Help Through Crisis Lottery 5-year funding ends next year, so we need to replace this in some way.
We are trying to bid for extra Lottery funding to work with young people on managing their money and have carried out a lot of work surveying and working with groups of young people about how they think that this should work.
With the new ways of working, we are looking at ways of offering volunteer opportunities and that includes thinking about whether we can place students on 'short' placements doing web chat for example.
Helping Addenbrooke's staff
Whilst out current contract working in the major trauma units at Addenbrooke's University Hospital is suspended, we are talking with the HR department about supporting hospital staff who may need help with money issues resulting perhaps from their partners being on furlough or potentially made redundant. Potentially, this could lead to huge money issues for their families.
Cambridge Family Mediation Service
We are really pleased that the Cambridge Family Mediation Service are joining us at our main office in Devonshire Road. This is exactly the sort of partnership we imagined when the design of the building was first conceived. Statistics prove that the current 2 site base of each others operations does not function well. People from Devonshire Road do not get to St Andrew’s Street and vice versa. We hope that being in the same building will bring massive benefits for clients.