We are excited to share our latest annual reports with a guest blog authored by our CEO, Jonathan Freeman MBE, sharing his thoughts on the journey of the Foundation so far.
Just over three years ago, CareTech plc took the plunge and committed serious financial support and a lot of trust in to the establishment of the first ever corporate foundation in the social care sector. That the Board of the plc so enthusiastically supported this bold new venture says so much about the leadership of the company. That this enthusiasm was backed up with significant financial investment underlines the seriousness of the company’s intent to deliver long-lasting social value in all that it does. As well as donating 2.5% of its pre-tax profits to the Foundation, the company donated a staggering one million shares to provide for the Foundation’s long-term financial stability. On top of this, the in-kind support the company’s staff provide to the Foundation and its partners – valued this last year at some £23,000 – demonstrates an amazing depth of support for our work.
All of us who have been involved in the Foundation’s development have felt the weight of expectation on our shoulders to make good the company’s investment in our work. But we have always known that we could always count upon the company to help us on our journey – and what a journey it has already been!
As our latest Impact Report shows, in just these first three years of operation the progress has been incredible:
- In three years, the Foundation has directly supported almost half a million people
- Just this year, we have supported over 51 charities
- We now have ten strategic partnerships in place, with a growing number coming on stream this year
As great as these numbers are, we care most about the positive difference we are making to individuals’ lives. Like the 359 young people who now have employability skills and qualifications thanks to the partners we have supported. Or the 173 people now employed in the health and social care sector. Or the almost 42,000 people in Pakistan who have been able to access mental health support. Or the special hand cycle for a foster child who has cerebral palsy, enabling this special little girl the chance to ride a bicycle for the first time
We have a fabulous group of partners in place, delivering brilliant programmes that are making such a difference on the issues about which we care so much:
- The EY Foundation’s new Beyond Your Limits programme, co-developed with us, is shifting the dial on the employability prospects for care-experienced young people;
- British Asian Trust’s mental health programme in Pakistan goes from strength to strength in creating a robust framework for tackling the huge mental health challenges of this wonderful country;
- Birkbeck University of London’s world-first ToddlerLab to research the early signs of autism and related conditions is now built and operating;
- Birmingham DRC’s provision of individually-tailored pathways for individuals with disabilities is delivering a step change in respect of education, volunteering and employment for their beneficiaries.
We have some incredibly exciting new partnerships coming to a conclusion this year, such as the exciting Barnardo’s new digital resource for care leavers that promises to transform the support available to some of the most challenged of young people. This exciting new service is currently being tested across a range of Barnardo’s and CareTech plc services to ensure that it fully meets the needs of the young people for whom it is intended and their support networks.
We also have some fantastic new partnerships coming on stream, such as The Prince’s Trust’s new Health and Social Care programme. Unlocking funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and Health Education England, this bold new programme aims to get 10,000 young people into health and social care jobs. The Foundation is thrilled to be the very first social care organisation to commit funding to this vital programme. And there are more partnerships soon to be announced!
I am particularly proud of the support that we have been able to provide to individual CareTech plc staff members and their families facing significant financial hardship through no fault of their own. This small grants fund has been a particularly important part of the Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a financial lifeline to 140 staff members and their families in the last year alone. The total value of these grants was just under £100,000, four times the support that we were able to provide in the previous year. We have made an additional £50,000 available in the current year to enable us to help even more people, recognising that the impacts of the pandemic will be with us all for a long time yet.
As the Foundation has developed, we have now increasingly found our voice. As has been rather too painfully apparent during the COVID pandemic, the value and importance of the social care sector has been woefully under-estimated and under-valued. More and more partners are looking to the Foundation for support for work in this sector. Beyond our financial support, however, the Foundation is increasingly able to help champion the cause of the social care sector. No more is this apparent than in our hosting of the cross-sector Championing Social Care initiative. I am personally honoured to be Vice-Chair of this important initiative and we are so excited to be delivering such a powerful new set of programmes alongside so many partners and supporters across the sector and beyond.
None of these achievements would have been possible without our dedicated group of trustees, whose steadfast support coupled with powerful challenge is a model of effective governance and accountability. We are also blessed with a brilliant staff team, who give their all to our work each and every day.
We have learned so very much in this last, most peculiar, year. The Annual Report sets out, I hope, an honest assessment of what we have learned this last year, including what we have not done so well, as well as the achievements we have secured. We know that there is much on which we need to improve.
So, three years on, whilst I absolutely know that we are still in the foothills of scaling the challenges we set our targets on, I couldn’t be more proud of the progress we have made. Nor could I be any more excited about the next stage of our journey!