Evie's Gift - an update

Senior School

The wonderful charity, Evie’s Gift was set up by Bryan and Patsy, the parents of a very special girl, Evie Clover after she died in January 2018 from a rare brain tumour. With the help of friends, families and the wider community including the Royal High School, this local charity raises money to help families with the cost of accommodation whilst their child is in hospital when free hospital or charity accommodation is not available. We also offer financial support towards food and travel costs.

Bryan Clover, Chair of Evie’s Gift writes….

The last 9 months have been incredibly tough for Evie’s Gift. As you can appreciate, our income was hit hard just as every charity was over that period, and on average our income was down 25-30% on budget.

We put plans in place straight away to strip out all unnecessary expenditure, although we were pretty lean to begin with, so that yielded little in the way of savings. We reviewed all of our expenditure to look for potential savings and sadly had to reduce our standard travel grant from £100 to £50. We needed to stretch what funds we had to help as many as possible.

We had a board meeting in late April and discussed putting measures in place to hibernate the charity until we could build reserves back up to a sustainable level. After a huge amount of hard work, we secured about £20,000 in funding, half from a foundation and the other half from the National Lottery; that gave us a 6-month breathing space. The 2.6 Challenge that replaced the London Marathon in late April and the Prudential Bike Ride in August also gave us a much-needed boost.

From an income perspective we initiated a number of changes to our fundraising activity, to refocus on areas that could still achieve success as our event programme was cancelled in its entirety. We set up the following:

1. We drove our raffle and lotteries programme to attract new donors.

2. An online Facebook Street Fayre in mid-June sold a lot of stock and brought in over £600.

3. We rechecked all of the rules for gift aid to make sure that we were claiming absolutely everything that we could.

4. Businesses have been unwilling to give straight donations, so we asked for donated products instead that we could sell on eBay or other routes. This is proving popular as it is an easy way for business to support us without incurring cost.

5. We set up small series of virtual events such as a virtual quiz night which proved to be popular.

Because the hospitals reduced the number of treatments and operations for cancer and so on, we had fewer applications for help from March to May which allowed us to focus our energies on generating income. During lockdown, we still received about 12-18 applications a month, but mostly for premature babies and those that had suffered critical accidents. Things started to get back to normal in June, and we are now seeing a more regular application rate. Bristol Children’s Hospital is still our primary source of applications but Alder Hey, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and GOSH are now regular sources of applicants. We have now helped 600 families altogether.

Things are still very difficult, especially as more and more local lockdowns kick in, and although the pressure on us has eased considerably, we aren’t out of the woods yet. The next 18-24 months are going to be a challenge. Please read about our work at www.eviesgift.org.uk

To donate you can send a cheque payable to ‘Evie’s Gift’ to 2 Farmhouse Court, Melksham, SN12 6FG or you can donate £3 by text by texting EVIE 3 to 70085, texts cost your donation plus your standard message rate. You can donate any amount from £1 to £20.

Thank you so much. We are a small local charity and every pound helps a family who are struggling with a child’s serious illness.

Debbie Dellar, Trustee of Evie’s Gift