GUEST BLOG: Why cash is not always king when giving back to your community.

Steve Savage, 23rd December, 2020

An update from our friends and colleagues at The Smile Foundation on their outstanding work in our local communities throughout 2020.

2020 was going to be no ordinary year for Andy and his team at Smile and that was before they were delivered their toughest assignment to date and in the most difficult of circumstances. It is fair to say that their response was nothing short of breathtaking.

A message from the Chief Executive of Smile, Andy Barber.

In 2020 Smile was preparing for a busy year helping numerous charities to grow and prosper within communities across Hull and East Yorkshire. We aimed to continue our investment in shared services from the Vault (providing free shared resources for communities) to the launch of our Beecan platform (to engage local grant makers and connect them with charities in the region). We also planned for the delivery of our packed calendar of events and corporate activities throughout the year from Golf Days to our annual Red & Black Ball. Our work nationally with the NHS had also been gathering pace where we would be operating between 4 and 6 NHS Charities in the coming year helping to raise and invest over £1m into our NHS.

The day it all changed

Prior to Boris’ announcement we were unexpectedly called to meet with the lead for public health in the East Riding, who asked us to prepare at pace to deliver crisis support to communities as we would be shortly be entering an unprecedented national lockdown. Within the next few days Smile had transitioned successfully to remote working with the support of Gosschalks’ IT team and set to work establishing 9 Community Hubs across the East Riding as a foundation for the support we’d provide. These Hubs were to go on to support thousands of local people, with food and medication, connecting a range of disparate charitable efforts to amass an army of over 3,000 volunteers. Soon afterwards, a befriending platform named the Caller Collective was established alongside our community Hubs and would provide over 300hrs of call time within weeks, connecting over 90 volunteers with hundreds of isolated residents through a digital platform that enabled volunteers to engage with those in need from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

In just a few short weeks, Smile, working with a host of partners from the Private, Public and Voluntary sectors including the Army, produced a huge support network that provided grant funding (Over £500k raised in 6 months!) food and medical provisions for those isolating and well-being support for charity leaders supporting their communities.

NHS Heroes

Since March, Smile has helped to generate over £2m of funding for our local NHS trust and has helped invest these funds to support our NHS frontline heroes with refreshments and care packages, supporting those working extraordinary hours in extreme conditions away from families. We were also able to fund a programme to roll out digital devices for patients on the hospital wards so they could stay connected with loved ones during very difficult times.

Aside from our COVID response work, Smile continued its support to fledgling businesses. Hull Youth Support Trust, which is part of the Smile family, helped 23 businesses that operate from its shared space, access over £250k of funding. At the same time they were able to translate the often complicated and ever-changing government guidance to help facilitate grants and help the businesses take advantage of the furlough scheme to protect jobs in the local area.

Further support in our communities

Through Smile’s arts fund, the I AM Fund, established in 2019 from the £1.3m legacy Audrey Mosey thanks to Gosschalks, Smile has provided grants to leading local venues and cultural organisations who faced crises as the doors remained closed for a prolonged period. The Smile Foundation properties that were once again established in partnership with Gosschalks, provided accommodation for over 30 elderly residents who were able to remain safe, secure and connected. During such, one resident reached her own personal milestone, celebrating her 100th birthday behind closed doors but with a huge bunch of her favourite flowers from the teams at Gosschalks and Smile!

There is so much more to tell from what has been a phenomenal year, but all of our impact within our local community comes from the provision of a solid foundation with the support of trusted advisors every step of the way. Ours is a true partnership, a platform born 9 years ago following a chance conversation with Gosschalks when we were ourselves needing a new home and a leg up. Little did he know that 9 years on that small charity with only 2 employees and a turnover of just £89k would go on to lead from the front providing vital, font-line support to our communities in its year of greatest need.

Now employing 26 local people, we raised over £3m this last year, supporting over 36,000 people and gained national recognition with our partners for our response to the pandemic. We’re not done yet for 2020. In the last few days, Smile is back out in our communities providing volunteers to support the recovery as we provide support to GP Surgeries across the area delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme. At this stage, they’re prioritising the over 80’s and those who remain most vulnerable to COVID-19. It’s our job to ensuring they receive a warm welcome, are re-assured and remain safe throughout their visit as well as ensuring they make their way back home safely following their vaccination.

Final words from Smile

Smile will be forever grateful for the decision by Gosschalks to think differently to others and to not rush to donate cash to a cause, but to believe in and invest in a community charity by providing resources, skills and time. We’ve had that in spades over the years as well as a brilliant and friendly office to call home.

Gosschalks’ investment in Smile has enabled £7m of resources to be pumped into communities in just 9 years. Smile now employs 26 local people, provides a home for the elderly, invests in the arts, innovates in health care and provides a platform for other businesses and philanthropists to have a trusted partner to work effectively within their community – the role Gosschalks has played in all this is immense. I remember Steve telling me that he was nervous when initially presenting the proposals for us to join Gosschalks to his colleagues. I told him not to worry and that we’d make them proud. We hope we’ve done that and look forward to continuing our partnership with Gosschalks for many years to come.

Thank you so much for your support and have a wonderful Christmas.

Kindest regards,

Andy Barber Chief Executive - The Smile Foundation

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