A charity which has been at the heart of the Surrey community for more than 85 years this June, is still facing an uncertain future due to the impact of COVID-19 on its fundraising and donations.
With an estimated shortfall in funding of £1million by the end of July, Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) has done everything possible to try and find solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on its services. But it still needs to raise £500,000 by September if they are to continue their vital work providing expert services to adults and children with disabilities or acquired brain injuries.
To support them in this mission they have this week launched the ‘Survive and Thrive’ appeal. In normal times, the charity supports more than 6,000 disabled children and adults every year, enabling them to develop key skills, increase their mobility, maximise their independence and receive life-changing support from its neurorehabilitation team. Today the future of these services, that thousands of people rely on, is at risk.
QEF Chief Executive, Karen Deacon said:
“In January this year we were financially stable and looking forward to opening our new Care and Rehabilitation Centre and celebrating our 85th anniversary – a huge milestone in any charity’s life – but now like many others, we are struggling to keep our services going. This is not business as usual and we have been changing our approach to try and combat the financial losses we have suffered. Since March we have done everything we can to maximise self-help first, before asking for money; prioritising our essential, front line services to support the most vulnerable people, furloughing more than 100 staff, temporarily closing three vital mobility services and launching new virtual fundraising activities but it just hasn’t been enough.
“We are launching this appeal now as we need help to ensure our expert services can survive so that the disabled people that rely on us can thrive. We really value all the support the Surrey community has given QEF in the past, but we need them now more than ever. If we can bridge this gap in our funding, then we can ensure a positive future for the charity and the people who rely on our services.”
The charity had to temporarily close its three mobility-focused services in March which resulted in the cancellation of 165 mobility and driving assessments, depriving adults and children of the chance to become more independent.
This included subsidiary charity MERU which provides the Bugzi loan scheme for young disabled children under five years old. Bugzi is a small indoor powered wheelchair for young children with complex mobility challenges which offer them life-transforming independence, allowing those with limited or no mobility to move around and be able to play with their siblings or just explore the world around them more freely.
Two-year-old Jude Morgan-Stopps is one such child who due to complications at birth suffers from a number of neurological and physical conditions. He has cerebral palsy, an autonomic dysfunction – which means he can’t regulate his body temperature so is always cold – and a visual sensory impairment and a processing disorder, in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses. He hasn’t been able to receive his Bugzi yet.
Jude’s dad, James from Tottenham said:
“Caring for a disabled child like Jude places tremendous limits on what you can and can’t do, but the lockdown has made this even worse. The services we need to help support him have been put on hold, while the therapy he relies on to grow and develop has been limited to video calls. We applied for a Bugzi just before Christmas but, with everything that has happened, haven’t yet been able to go in for our assessment.
“Our little boy is largely immobile, relying on me, my wife or his carer to move him from one place to another. A lot of his therapy focuses on getting Jude to instigate movement himself and the Bugzi would have been excellent for this, potentially life-changing. It would have given him the experience of moving independently and the chance to explore the world around him, something that every child his age needs to be able to do. We had been hoping to make the most of the warm summer, let him loose on the playground with a Bugzi and see the enjoyment he would have gotten from it.
“Lockdown has been stressful and exhausting. As well as shielding and caring for Jude 24/7, we welcomed his new baby brother into a very strange world. To think that QEF’s mobility services may not reopen is terrifying, as Jude will lose the support he needs to have a brighter, more fun childhood.”
The charity has a host of fundraising activities planned over the next few months to encourage people to support them, including The Big Ride or Stride a virtual bike ride and walking event, as well as the Queen Tea event, in honour of the charity’s founding supporter, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, where there will be the opportunity to win a virtual tea party with celebrities.
To find out more and support QEF’s Survive and Thrive appeal visit qef.org.uk/surviveandthrive