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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

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Disabled children’s charity sends coronavirus crisis plea

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NOTTINGHAM-based charity, Footprints CEC, is urging people not to stop donating during the current public health pandemic, as the not-for-profit sector continues to be one of the hardest hit.

The charity, which provides conductive education for children with mobility or communication difficulties across the East Midlands, and a support network for the families, has experienced a funding loss of over 40% since the crisis began.

It’s the same story for charities across the country with The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) recently warned that losses for the sector during the pandemic could be ‘in the region of £4 billion.’

Charities and not-for-profits have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic due to the wide-spread cancellation of many large-scale fundraising events – such as The London Landmarks Half Marathon – which they rely on for much-needed funds.

Footprints alone had 15 runners taking part in the race (due to take place last month) with an expected income of £20,000 from the one event. For the independent charity – which currently supports 60 local children – even a small decline in its income could lead to its collapse.

Footprints, which has been operating in Nottingham for 39 years, must raise a minimum of £17,000 a month to survive; providing its vital services to the families who simply rely on the charity for the progression of their child who needs its specialist services. The charity’s funds are used directly to support children between the ages of six months and eleven years, with neurological and chromosomal disorders and motor development issues, helping them to learn lifelong skills and develop independence.

It costs the charity £85 to deliver a session for one parent and child, which enables them to develop the child’s sitting, standing, walking, sensory development, speech and language and eating and drinking skills. £25 buys a supply of bubbles, chewy tubes and other equipment to help with specialist speech therapy for children with Down’s Syndrome.

Already at a loss of over 40% of income, Footprints expects this to decline even further as the pandemic continues and government restriction measures are in place.

Applications for continuation funds are suspended as all funding is being deviated to support coronavirus related activity and while the government did announce last week a £750m support package for the charity sector during the outbreak, many charities don’t yet know if they will be eligible or when the funds will come through.

Nathalie Bailey-Flitter, manager at Footprints CEC said:

“Since the pandemic hit, there has been a massive worry for the future of our charity. Without funding support, ours and other charities will simply not survive, and children with disabilities and their parents or carers will lose a valued lifeline. Children’s services, in particular, are already struggling to cope so public support for charities is crucial.

“We have been operating in Nottingham for nearly four decades and have helped many hundreds of children since our inception with the development of life skills that many of us take for granted. We rely solely on donations, which have been extremely limited under the current circumstances and it’s heart-breaking that because of the lockdown, we haven’t been able to deliver our face to face sessions for our families. We have however adapted where we can and are delivering some virtual sessions to enable our children to continue with their essential conductive progression.

“While the current situation is challenging for everyone, I would urge the people of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and beyond to consider supporting those organisations most in need. This pandemic has really brought out people’s sense of community and empathy so perhaps now is the time to choose a worthy cause and support them in any way you can.

“Our early intervention support gives disabled children the opportunity to gain the confidence, essential skills and quality of life that many non-disabled people take for granted. We cannot emphasise enough that the need for support is urgent. Our children will not get this time back.”

If you would like to support the charity, you can donate to its Keep Footprints Afloat campaign: http://bit.ly/KeepFootprintsAfloat

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