Opinion

Putting people first

Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO, CareTech Foundation

I shifted my career to the charity sector after I saw just how immediate and powerful the impact could be on individuals’ lives at times of crisis from a timely intervention by a well-run and thoughtful organisation.  This is particularly the case in the social care sector in which I have witnessed amazing people providing amazing support for those in the care.  It is truly an honour to work alongside people like my colleagues at CareTech plc and the CareTech Foundation who share a similar perspective.

The CareTech Foundation was founded in 2017 as the philanthropic branch of CareTech plc to show that, as leaders of the care sector, we truly live by and practice this attitude. Putting people first in all aspects of our activity is at the centre of the Foundation’s values; from those we serve in our facilities, to grassroots charities we support, and the personal causes that are close to our employees’ hearts. Carers and their communities are at the heart of everything we do.

One of our programmes that helps us achieve this is the Foundation’s Community Grants programme. Through this programme, we are able to deliver small grants to support families, friends and communities of care workers. We are proud to say that this past year we have supported 50 such grants to a value of almost £75,000.

What is great about this programme is the diversity of the causes it allows us to support, from supporting community centres, individuals in need, and helping grassroots charities that are tackling issues like intergenerational loneliness, dementia and accessible urban cultural experiences. All of these grants are unique but have the common goal of helping people and their communities.

Over the past year, many of CareTech plc’s employees have taken part in different fundraising initiatives in their communities and in our facilities – from cake sales to school walks to marathons, hikes, bike rides and other activities – that raise funds for a cause they care about. The Foundation’s Match-Funding Grant allows us to help care staff meet and exceed their fundraising goals, by doubling any funds raised by the staff member.

Earlier this year, the team at Daiseybrook, raised £400 by hosting a cake sale for Cancer Research UK, whilst the young people at Middle Leaford hosted a hot chocolate afternoon for Macmillan Cancer Support raising £371 for the charity in the process. Both of these were matched in full through our Match-Funding Grants programme. Throughout the year, we continued to support similar employee fundraising initiatives by fully or partially matching their fundraising goals.

Continuing on the community theme of our grants, it is no secret that the need and desire for social activity was overwhelming during the pandemic.  Many local sports clubs that acted as de facto community centres in their area needed support to survive during the lockdowns. With sponsors and members re-evaluating financial priorities, these community centres needed all the help they could get.

The Foundation is proud to have played a role in helping a number of sport centres, including Warwick Women’s Rugby Club and Rushden & Higham RFC. Our small grants helped provide funding for coaching, travel and equipment costs for Warwick and training kits for Rushden & Higham, allowing these clubs to continue activities once pandemic restrictions were lifted.  We also were able to provide grants for a boxing club in Donnington to help pay for a new minibus required for team transportation and also provided funds to Rhuddlan Town Football Club for a new water heater for their clubhouse.  It was important to these communities that these hubs survived, for the sake of the community and the mental health of its members.

Additionally, our Community Grant programmes allow us to fund grassroots organisations and their campaigns. This includes a £10,000 grant awarded to Crafting Connections, a project which aims to create long-lasting intergenerational friendships through arts & crafts, a grant of £2,500 awarded to support the Purple Angels campaign, which distributes free personalised MP3s for those living with dementia in the UK and a £1,500 grant awarded to a creative programme focused on making cultural venues more accessible to people with complex needs and those from economically deprived areas of London.

Everyone needs a start or a helping hand at some point in their life.  You can never quite know what a difference an individual can make unless you give them that a chance.  This has been a big part of the Foundation’s ethos since our founding.  A timely contribution, even if relatively modest, can make a huge difference to someone’s future life chances.

At CareTech plc and the Foundation, we aim to create a model that we hope other leading care organisations can follow. With our Community Grants and Match-Funding Grant, we want to make sure that employees feel supported not just in the workplace but also in their lives, passions and causes outside of work.

If leading care sector companies have the means to do so, I encourage them to set up a similar scheme so that we can be true champions of social care in business practice and for our own people and communities.

@jonathanfreeman

 

 

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