What a truly challenging year 2020 has been for us all!
With Covid-19 dominating our everyday lives it’s been difficult to focus on anything else. It has literally impacted us personally, professionally, our loved ones, friends and extended families around the country and globe. This year has been emotionally and physically tough, financially difficult and sadly heartbreaking for some. I know I personally feel a level of fatigue and frustration about this thing that we cannot see and with its sole purpose to indiscriminately harm us, it poses a constant niggling worry on my mind.
It is with that thought that I approach the safety of our Centre. Would I feel safe in taking part in a therapy at the Centre with the protocols that are in place? The answer you may think is a biased one but I can assure you it is not. With my neck on the line over the safety of our Centre it is imperative we get it right, we continue to get it right and challenge where we are not. So, back to the question…would I feel safe attending the Centre? The answer is categorically YES, yes I would. Why? Because the Centre staff adhere to the strict protocols we have in place, often going above and beyond to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our members and clients who attend the Centre. Our valued members and clients have also played a key part in keeping themselves and us safe too and I’d like to extend a very BIG thank you for that, also for your patience and understanding as we navigate the constant changing Government restrictions during the pandemic.
Operational Challenges and Changes
Following my return to the Centre back in June the Board of Trustees asked me to carry out an Operational Review and prepare the 2021 Budget. These two tasks under the current circumstances were perhaps the toughest tasks I have had to complete in many years. Operationally we have been enormously impacted. Our Centre income dried up overnight for 4 long months and when we did re-open, we could not re-open our Centre of old, but in order to comply with Government restrictions at the time we opened up a Covid-19 secure, phased, reduced therapy service. And, just when we were starting to get Phase 3 off the ground (Complementary Therapies) we were thrust back into another National Lockdown. Now, as we emerge from Lockdown and into Tier 3, we are able to re-open our Gym and Complementary Therapies once again under the new Tier 3 restrictions.
With the Centres’ income so severely impacted this year it has led to an unavoidable impact on the Centre team. We had to make savings across the Centre to ensure its survivability and sadly this has resulted in a reduction of our operational staff through redundancy. I would like to thank Nicola Bundock, who was our Reception Administrator for 7 years. Nicola is missed by the entire team but she has assured me when the time is right that she would like to come back and help out on a voluntary basis.
Our reception team is reduced further still with Louise O’Boyle currently on furlough leave. Once our capacity is back up and we are not under constant threat of lockdown we look forward to welcoming Louise back in the New Year. I would like to thank the entire reception team made up of incredible staff and volunteers for their constant commitment to deliver a quality reception service.
To bring down our costs further there will be a reduction in the hours that our weekday Oxygen Therapy Operator, Will Middlesmiss carries out. We will for at least the first 6 months of 2021 be running a more condensed Oxygen Therapy Schedule.
I’d like to thank the Oxygen Therapy Operators who have stepped in and kept our Oxygen Therapy service running since we re-opened. Thanks must go to Carl Harris and Joshua Hunter for running the evening Oxygen Therapy shifts recently, and for always lending a hand when we need it. Carl and Joshua will step down from delivering evening Oxygen Therapy for now but will continue to run the Saturday Oxygen Therapy shift as normal.
Our wonderful Support Manager, Karen Middlemiss will be reducing her hours. She will continue to work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Centre, but will finish earlier from 1st January 2021.
2021 Membership, Contributions and Charges
Drafting the 2021 budget as I touched on previously was difficult. I’m not ashamed to admit I found it incredibly challenging to predict where we will be given Covid-19’s dominance going into 2021 and needless to say once I had reviewed the figures, reductions in our Centre team and service were simply not enough. It became apparent fairly quickly that I needed to increase our income in other ways.
Our Centre membership fees, suggested contributions and charges have not increased since November 2018 and I am pleased to confirm that we will be keeping our annual membership fees flat in 2021.
However, the cost of providing services at the Centre has increased and regrettably I am left with no choice but to increase the suggested contributions and charges from 1st January 2021. We have kept the increases modest and well below commercial rates and it goes without saying that every single penny goes towards vital operating costs to ensure the survivability of our Centre throughout 2021 and beyond.
The increases will be as follows:
£1 increase on all suggested contributions for our MS Members
£2 increase on all therapies available to our Associate Family Members
£2 increase on all therapies available to our Associate Members
£2 increase on Oxygen Therapy for our Oxygen Therapy Clients
I understand the increase in contributions and charges is not ideal but I do hope you appreciate the reason why we have to do this. It’s important to remind our MS Members that our model remains the same. The Centre is here for our MS members and we understand the life limitations of having MS. Our MS Members contributions toward any therapy remain exactly that, a contribution. I would kindly ask though that those who can and are able to should please pay some if possible, or all of the suggested contribution to help keep our much loved Centre operational.
Christmas and New Year
The Centre team are committed to providing you with the therapy we know you love, enjoy and greatly benefit from. We will continue to deliver therapy between Christmas and New Year, see our opening times schedule below for more details.
On behalf of the entire team and myself we wish you and your families a very warm, healthy and happy Christmas. May 2021 bring us all unwavering health, happiness, kindness and fingers crossed a vaccine. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Centre in the New Year.
Safest of season wishes,