QEF has been at the heart of the Surrey community for more than 85 years, but today our expert services are facing an uncertain future due to the impact of COVID-19 on our voluntary income.
With an estimated shortfall in funding of £1million by the end of July, QEF has done everything possible to try and find solutions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on its services. However, we still need to raise £500,000 by the end of September if we are to continue our vital work providing expert services to adults and children with disabilities or acquired brain injuries.
In order to secure the charity’s future we have launched the ‘Survive and Thrive’ appeal. In normal times, we support more than 6,000 disabled children and adults every year, enabling them to develop key skills, increase their mobility, maximise their independence and receive life changing support from our neurorehabilitation team. Today the future of these services is at risk.
QEF Chief Executive, Karen Deacon says: “In January this year we were financially stable and looking forward to opening our new Care and Rehabilitation Centre and celebrating our 85th anniversary – a huge milestone in any charity’s life – but now, like many others, we are struggling to keep our services going. This is not business as usual and we have been changing our approach to try and combat the financial losses we have suffered. Since March we have done everything we can to maximise self-help first, before asking for money; prioritising our essential, front line services to support the most vulnerable people, furloughing more than 100 staff, temporarily closing three vital mobility services and launching new virtual fundraising activities but it just hasn’t been enough.
“We are launching this appeal now as we need help to ensure our expert services can survive, so that the disabled people that rely on us can thrive. We really value all the support the Surrey community has given QEF in the past, but we need them now more than ever. If we can bridge this gap in our funding, then we can ensure a positive future for the charity and the people who rely on our services.”
We had to temporarily close three mobility focused services in March which resulted in the cancellation of 165 mobility and driving assessments, depriving adults and children of the chance to become more independent. This included subsidiary charity MERU which provides the Bugzi loan scheme for young disabled children under five years old. Bugzi is a small indoor powered wheelchair for young children with complex mobility challenges, which offers life transforming independence, allowing children with limited or no mobility to move around and play with their siblings and explore the world around them.
Two-year-old Jude is one such child who due to complications at birth suffers from a number of neurological and physical conditions. He has cerebral palsy, an autonomic dysfunction – which means he can’t regulate his body temperature so is always cold – a visual sensory impairment and a processing disorder, in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses. He hasn’t been able to receive his Bugzi yet.
Jude’s dad, James from Tottenham said: “Our little boy is largely immobile, relying on me, my wife or his carer to move him from one place to another. A lot of his therapy focuses on getting Jude to instigate movement himself and the Bugzi would have been excellent for this, potentially life-changing. It would have given him the experience of moving independently and the chance to explore the world around him, something that every child his age needs to be able to do. We had been hoping to make the most of the warm summer, let him loose on the playground with a Bugzi and see the enjoyment he would have gotten from it.....To think that QEF’s mobility services may not reopen is terrifying, as Jude will lose the support he needs to have a brighter, more fun childhood."