It’s been a busy year for Sense, and as 2019 draws to a close, it’s important to reflect on what’s been achieved over the last 12 months!
No one left out of life
At the beginning of the year, we launched our new strategy, No one left out of life, with ambitious goals for the people we support.
In what continues to be a challenging environment in all three of the areas Sense operates in: Charity, Social Care and Retail, I am proud to say we have continued to expand our services, meeting the needs of an even greater number of people, without compromising on our high standards. We are very proud of our record in social care. It also means our campaigning work is more credible as it is rooted in the views of those we support and their families, and from our expertise as a service provider.
The income that enables us to deliver this support is provided, in part, by our charity shops, and we continue to open more shops on the high street, including securing a presence this year, for the first time, in Wales.
And this year, too, we appointed a Sense President, the first in our 65-year-history. Lord Levy, who shares our passion for the cause, will help us raise our profile and secure greater, long-term support.
Below I’ve outlined some of the achievements over the last year, delivered by our incredible Sense staff, and family of volunteers.
Outcome 1: Children and families get the best possible start
We’ve delivered another fantastic holidays programme, benefitting children and adults with complex disabilities, while providing families with essential respite. We continue to support children and families, as well as expanding our support to siblings.
We’re ahead of our target on sibling events, and this year so far we’ve supported 307 families to attend a family event, had 93 children and young people attending buddying or short breaks, and nearly 100 went on a Sense holiday.
Outcome 2: Adults are supported to live and learn at every stage of their lives
We’ve opened more new services to support people, including in Wales for the first time. We have rapidly expanded our supported living places in the first six months of our strategy as well as increasing the number of people accessing Sense day services and Sense College.
Outcome 3: Individuals are less lonely and more connected with their communities
We’ve secured funding from Sport England to the tune of £1.3million for the next phase of our sports work and grown the team to start to deliver this. This will enable more people with complex disabilities to access sport and physical activity for the first time. We’ve launched a new arts strategy to connect more people with complex disabilities with their local communities and receiving new funding to support our growth.
We’ve already hit our target for the number of people we want to reach through sports sessions this year – over 1,500 – and we’re well on the way to providing over 1,600 arts sessions this financial year too.
Outcome 4: Society has increased awareness of the impact of our work and is inspired to take action
With politics being as unpredictable as ever, the Sense Policy and Campaigns team have continued to campaign for the rights of the people we support, using Carers Week, our partnership with the Disabled Children’s Partnership and ‘Transport to School’ inquiry to champion the needs of the people we support. We continue to raise awareness of our work and our amazing cause with real success enabling us to reach new supporters
Of course, this year has seen some great achievements for our sister organisation, Sense International, which supports people with deafblindness globally. Sense International Tanzania has launched the country’s first-ever screening and early intervention programme for children with sensory impairments. Sense International Peru celebrated 10 years of changing lives in this country this August, whilst Sense International Romania celebrated 18 years this February. We’ve been awarded a three-year grant by Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) to provide better health outcomes for people with deafblindness in Nepal.
2020: an exciting year approaches
I’m incredibly excited about our plans for 2020, but before we move into the new year, it’s important to pause and reflect on the progress we have made over the last 12 months. Thank you to Sense staff, our volunteers and all of our supporters. None of this could be achieved without you all. Every supporter, volunteer, fundraiser, branch, and member of staff, are truly vital in changing the lives of people with complex disabilities.