Ann Cobban, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Newry based charity, Head Injury Support, has warned of difficult times ahead and that the need to fundraise £70,000 for the organisation.
The charity which is located at Kildare Street, works to help rehabilitate those within the community who have befallen the unfortunate fate of having sustained a head injury and are no longer able to undertake any kind of full-time employment.
“By this time next year if we are sitting on the same situation and not raising enough funds we are in a bit of danger,”
Ann provided detail regarding the nature of the funding that Head Injury Support Newry receives, stating that currently as it stands the organisation needs to fundraise “at least £70,000 a year to stand still”, with the charity also deriving funding from grants provided from the National Lottery as well as grant to help carers of those with Head Injuries.
“Regarding our financing we have three revenue streams. We receive a grant from the National Lottery and we acquired this two years ago and it has another two years to run. We also have a small grant to help carers. It started earlier this year in February and it runs for two years. After this our third main funding stream is fundraising.
“We receive £109,000 per year from the national lottery grant as well as £35,000 per year from the grant to help carers. The remainder of our financing comes from fundraising. We try to fundraise up to £70,000 a year but we never reach this goal, even though we have a fundraising strategy which involves us hosting four key events a year plus smaller events to help fundraise for Head Injury Support Newry. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we could not have four key events so we lost this. We need to raise 70k a year to stand still.”
“We did receive a grant from the Health Trust and we had it for five years and it was extended for two years over Covid and then we lost it on price this year. This grant use to help us cover the cost of our rent, electricity and oil, it also funded a proportion of our managers wages and a proportion of our administrator's wages. We have to have someone to manage this little business as I call it and we need to have an administrator just to keep the flow of things happening and to pay the bills. We lost all of this overnight on the February 1.”
Whilst Ann would like to emphasis the fact that as an organisation Head Injury Support is overwhelmingly grateful for the financial support they receive from the aforementioned grants, and that as an organisation they also has a very positive and amiable relationship with the organisations that administer these grants, it is owing to the fact that the funding from these sources can only be used to cover certain specific expenditures that some difficulties begin to arise in trying to cover the overhead expenditures such as electricity, oil and rent that the charity incurs through its operations in Kildare street.
“The two main grants that we receive both from the National Lottery and the Public Health are for a specific period, for specific reasons. When you bid for these grants, you are specifically bidding for this funding to enable you to do a set of activities, or a set of recreational social activities as well as for the staff to provide these. So, these moneys are tied up in this programme of activities and staffing. After this if the roof falls of on our building, we are faced with the question of how do we repair this?
“For example, the way the National Lottery grant works is that we ask for funds for a co-ordinator to go out and find people in the wider area with head injuries and their families and then we will go out to them twice a week and we will bus them in twice a week. This is quite an expensive, costly operation. However, when they come in to our building that grant doesn't cover the expenditures associated with that building. It covers the bus in, the bus out and also covers the staff member that co-ordinates it all, but not the likes of the rent or any other expenditures associated with the building. The money from the National Lottery Grant also covers the cost of materials for arts and crafts.
“Furthermore, the £35,000 annual grant that we receive from Health Trust only covers for our carer activities. This would cover the cost of giving carers of those who have suffered a head injury a small holiday, or a weekend away or a stay in a hotel somewhere where they can get a bit of respite.
“All of the money to cover our overhead expenditures such as rent, electric and oil comes from fundraising, therefore we have a dependency on fundraising.”
Whilst the adverse effects of the cost of living crisis would pose a challenge to any charity organisation such as Head Injury Support that relies upon fundraising as a vital source of revenue, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had an adverse impact on the level of money raised by the organisation through fundraising, with Ann stating that before the pandemic the charity would normally have raised up to £45,000 year, but because of Covid the charity has lost “two years' worth of fundraising events” and that post Covid they “have not made a full recovery.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic we normally fundraised raised up to about £45,000 a year, but then we lost two years' worth of fundraising events. Post covid we have not made a full recovery. We have held one or two small events. We had one large event which was the golf classic and I think our profit out of this was £7000.00. It only happened last month so I am still waiting to the next board meeting to see the result, but we probably spent around one thousand pounds on the event and probably made around seven or eight thousand pounds out of the event. So, we do have to make somewhat of an investment in events in order to fundraise money out of it.
“We need to raise 70k a year to stand still. As a set of trustees, we have to be clever in ensuring that we go out there and hunt down new grants, but they are not guaranteed because they are all restricted grants. As a charity, you do not receive a grant to be used on whatever it is you want to use it on you have to have make a very specific business case, i.e be able to state that we need these funds for x, y or z. They will also rightly check that you spend the money that they give you on x, y or z and they will rarely ever give you too much capital. These grants are very hard to find.
Despite the challenges posed to their organisation by the ongoing cost of living crisis and the fact that they are operating within the context of a post-pandemic economy, Ann still remains optimistic regarding the fundraising prospects of the major activities that Head Injury Support has planned throughout the remainder of the year, with her encouraging everyone to come along to the Casino Extravaganza event that the charity has organised to take place at the Killeavy G.A.C club on July 2.
“We are very excited about this event; it is one of our key fundraising events. The Casino Extravaganza has been planned by a lady called Ciara McGuinness and her friends and it is being hosted by Killeavy GAA club and we believe it is going to be a fantastic night.
“There is going to be a buffet meal as well as prosecco on arrival. There is going to be a Casino table and tombola. There will also be a pick Killeavy Bond competition, that will involve nominating someone as being Killeavy's very own James Bond. There will also be some other fun activities along with a ten-piece band. We don't know what exactly it is we are going to raise from it but if we sell all the tickets, it will really, really help us this year to pay the bills. Like I said without the fundraising we would be lost and this is a Key event for us.”
Head Injury Support Newry’s Midsummer Casino Extravaganza will take place at Killeavy G.A.C club on Saturday July 2 with activities beginning from 7.30pm. Admission price is £30.00. Tickets are available for sale from Supervalu, Dublin Road Newry and Head Injury Support Newry as well as on the organisations Facebook page.
ONE individual who is currently availing of the services provided by Head Injury support Newry is a gentleman by the name of Paul.
Paul has suffered two head injuries in his lifetime, the first being in 1990 in which he was involved in a collision with a car and the second being an anuerism he suffered 11 years ago.
Although both accidents profoundly changed the way Paul conducts his day-to-day life, with the anuerism in particular resulting in him not being able to experience any sensation down the right side of his body, Head Injury support Newry has in his own words “given him back his confidence.”
“Head Injury Support Newry has physically given me a safe place to go where I feel comfortable and I don't have to explain myself.
“I got my confidence back from Head Injury Support . I would also see it with other people who have suffered brain injuries who come in here for help. They would be lost when they come in but they would see us joking and laughing and they would start to think "right I can get through this.”
“The people in Head Injury Support Newry are not staff they are my friends, you come in and they talk to you. The support that we get from Head injury support Newry is second to none, it is absolutely phenomenal. We really couldn't exist without the support that we receive from the organisation. If you have a problem, be it of any nature, there isn't a person you can't talk to with Head Injury Support Newry being our main outlet.”
Paul concluded by stating that he would be very frightened if Head Injury Support was not present to provide its services to the community in Newry because, without the charity he claims “we would be lost.”
“I would be very frightened if Head Injury support Newry wasn't opened, not only for myself but for other people.
“Some people need one to one support, some people like myself don't need one to one all the time, but if we hadn't a place to go, we would be lost.”