A view from a small charity; collaboration is vital

It’s often hard to make things happen on your own. From the perspective of a relatively small charity such as Cherry Trees, we know that despite years of working and building links deep into our community, we don’t always have the necessary resources or exposure for our message to be heard by the right audience. There are constraints on time, staffing and costs that cannot be overcome. However, we have a magic power in collaboration. If there’s one thing that we have all appreciated over the past 18 months, it’s that by getting together and cooperating, we can often get the (seemingly) impossible done.

Cherry Trees operates its services within a sector where our beneficiaries are not only our children, who have an incredibly wide range of complex disabilities, but their parents, carers and siblings. From decades of experience, we appreciate how hard it can be to raise a child who faces multiple challenges in their life. Those challenges are shared by their families, on what is often a lonely journey. In their world, the whole day can be taken trying to do what for most of us, would be a straightforward task. Getting up and ready for the day, providing and eating nutritious food, getting out into the world… let alone going to work or school once other things have been taken care of. Morning routines can take hours longer when your child has disabilities; it can be exhausting, mentally as well as physically. Your child may not have slept due to medical issues, so you will not have slept either… Add a pandemic to the mix and life can be very, very hard and incredibly isolating for our families.

So how does collaboration help? Cherry Trees is part of the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), a group of 90 charities working together for improved health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families. It provides a platform for their voices and the challenges that affect them. This means that issues that matter most to these families can be picked up and allows greater advocacy on their behalf. One family’s voice can be lost, but collaboration can help them all be heard.

The DCP and its member charities have recently carried out national surveys of families who have a child with disabilities, to establish how the pandemic has affected them and the services they and their child rely on. This has uncovered some shocking findings. For example, 76% of families saw the support they received before lockdown, stop. The DCP report #LeftInLockdown exposes the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the lives of disabled children and families, and calls for targeted recovery policies to help them heal from a detrimental year.

Without the collaboration of the 90 charities from the DCP, these and other findings may not have been uncovered, nor highlighted to the nation. A virtual parliamentary event hosted by Mary Foy MP on 10th September, with over 50 MPs attending, will hear directly from young people and parent carers about their experiences over the last 18 months. In turn, the DCP are running a petition (Maureen’s Open Letter) through to early October based on the experiences of one particular family. It aims to raise awareness of the needs of all these families when the Chancellor puts forward the autumn spending review. 

A little collaboration goes a long way.


Picture credit: Free public use courtesy of Pixabay.