Gloucestershire Funders’ Spotlight is a series aimed at raising awareness of some of the organisations we have helped to fund. Each week we speak with a representative and ask them questions about what it is that they do, what they have learned during the last few months, and how else they might be supported to ensure they can keep making a difference to lives in Gloucestershire. This week we spoke with Rosa from Allsorts Gloucestershire.
Q1: What does Allsorts do, where are you based and who do you work with?
Allsorts provides hundreds of hours of extra-curricular activity a week for young disabled children in Gloucestershire. We offer youth clubs, sports clubs, toddler groups and a huge range of play sessions at our Toy Library in Stroud. There is support for the wider family too, including parent and carer groups, information sessions, sibling hang outs and a grandparent group. Most recently we have begun to develop a Health and Fitness programme which includes family fitness fun, yoga and inclusive school sport.
We are currently supporting over 350 families across Gloucestershire and that number is increasing all the time. We are a pan-disability organisation meaning we work with both physically and learning disabled children. Many children who come to Allsorts have complex and life limiting conditions and are very isolated – both physically and socially. We aim to combat this by helping them forge friendships and try new things in supported, safe but fun environments.
Q2: How have Allsorts and the people you work alongside been affected over the last 3 months?
We were and are still very concerned about the mental and physical health of Allsorts families due to Coronavirus. The lack of routine throughout lockdown for children with complex needs invariably resulted in more challenging behaviour and parents and carers not receiving a much required break. Many families are experiencing financial hardship when money was already a significant worry for them. A large number of families who are already isolated due to social difficulties or location have been isolated further. The mental health of a significant number of children and young people has decreased. Many families who are in isolation due to complex health conditions are worried about accessing basic things, with single parent families and those with multigenerational health problems most at risk.
Like many other charities, it has been a turbulent time for Allsorts, with significant worries over income at the start of lockdown. Due to the tremendous support of our community and funders such as Gloucestershire Funders, we were able to continue delivering activities to children with additional needs and much-needed support throughout the Covid-19 emergency. The crisis funding also meant we were able to look ahead and begin to build up a plan of what our community would look like post-lockdown and in a post-Covid world.
Q3: Have you learned anything or been surprised by anything during this time?
Despite being very busy with our crisis appeal and adapting our delivery, these last 5 months have given us some thinking time and space for planning – something we don’t usually get much of! We’ve learnt a lot about the different ways we can deliver activities and we imagine that digital versions will now be offered across our calendar, enabling us to reach more people due to their location or preference.
Q4: How will the money from Gloucestershire Funders be used by Allsorts?
The funding from Gloucestershire Funders replaced some of our income which usually would have been raised through the community and fundraising events. It helped keep 5 members of our team in post to continue delivering much needed support and activities to Allsorts families.
Q5: Are you still fundraising? How can people support your organisation?
Yes we’re very keen to hear from individuals and businesses who are looking to support a local charity over the next year. We’ll be putting a programme of events together which will be published on our website and welcome any ideas!