Connections and Connectivity

I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to write this lead article and I hope I am able to live up to the high standards of all contributors past and present.

As Chairman of South Lakeland Hydrotherapy Trust (SLHT) – Sandgate Hydrotherapy Pool –  and a member of Cumbria CVS, I was involved with closing the Pool down and cancelling ALL fundraising activities, which has to date resulted in a loss of fundraising income of about £8,000 and a loss of admission income of about £1,800 per week. Although we are now hoping to be able to open in August, we will have a large overspend this financial year.

We are only one of the 2,800 registered charities in Cumbria and are NOT the only one facing financial and service delivery challenges. Some are working extremely hard at present delivering help and support to those who are directly affected by COVID-19 and others will be desperately needed as we move forward into the recovery phase. Many of these charities and other third sector organisations have benefitted with the support from Cumbria CVS – as have we – so well done and a big thank you to all of you at CVS.

As a Trustee of Cumbria CVS, we quickly moved Board and Committee meetings online – via Zoom then MS Teams – and learned a whole new protocol of communicating. I have had more people in my house and have in return visited more people in their homes than I ever would have done in a lifetime, without even moving the car. A whole new industry has emerged of selecting certain books for display behind you to make you look good, and not having children and dogs around while you are online – and the most used phrase has become “YOU’RE ON MUTE”!
The role of a Trustee is about ‘Governance’ and using new approaches, here at Cumbria CVS we have been able to fulfil that statutory role in these unusual circumstances and although not ideal, it has produced benefits that we would not have thought possible and that we must NOT lose. For example, Trustees have been invited to be present (and participate) at the weekly Staff Meetings which has been a privilege and invaluable. I have got to know the staff a lot better, understand what they do and to recognise the tremendous workload undertaken and delivered. I am proud to be associated with Cumbria CVS and I sincerely thank you for the way you have ‘picked up the baton’ and run with it.

This has been recognised by many organisations and stakeholders within Cumbria some of which and who I am involved with. The networking and cross fertilisation between different organisations in Cumbria is paramount.

As Head Governor at UHMB NHS FT, I have met regularly with the Chairman via MS Teams, had daily briefings and updates and many phone calls, which I have been able to report back to both Cumbria CVS and TSNE meetings, thereby contributing to the overall picture, which is not confined to Cumbria, as UHMB FT crosses county boundaries of South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

There has been a great recognition of the help and support given by ‘volunteers’ – e.g. over 200 volunteers volunteered for the Trust directly, delivering over 300,000 items  – and there is a recognition of the valuable contribution of the third sector and this message will not be lost as we move forward out of the Crisis.

As the third sector representative on Cumbria Health and Wellbeing Board, I have been part of a live (virtual) public meeting (Friday 10 July) with the recording remaining available for the next 6 months. Although there were technical problems, if these can be overcome, these meeting will become hopefully more accessible to the public and press and I believe that is a good thing.

Over the last few weeks, by attending these online meetings, I have saved on travel costs and on time and therefore feel that a combination or hybrid of such meetings moving forward will provide a good option for organisations.  The bad thing (for me) is that I have not had my hair cut for over 4 months and the earliest appointment I could get with my local hairdresser is 1st August!

Colin Ranshaw

(Deputy Chairman of CCVS and Chairman of the HR and Quality Committee)