Last year, Care UK launched its Wellbeing Foundation. This new body is supporting good causes in local communities where Care UK offers services to local people. In the article below, Belinda Moore, Care UK’s Director of Marketing and Chairman of the Wellbeing Foundation Board, talks about why the Foundation has chosen an arts theme for its first year of operation and reveals what kind of charities have already benefited from its grants.
“One of my absolute highlights of 2014 was the launch of our brand new Wellbeing Foundation and the start of its partnership with music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.
We kick-started the Foundation with a £100,000 a year pot for good causes in addition to the £25,000 worth of donations made via our employee match funding scheme which we have run for several years.
Care UK serves 19 million people, through its partnerships with the NHS and through social care contracts with local authorities, and our aim is to make a real difference to all their lives. From specialist care for children as young as nine, who are living with eating disorders, to residential palliative care, we are with people throughout their journey in life.
When we decided to create the Wellbeing Foundation, we were committed to giving our teams, who take the journey with the people who use our services, an active central role in its creation. We also wanted the Foundation to reward the ethos of care and compassion shown and championed by our colleagues every day.
In the inaugural year of the Foundation, we are focusing on promoting wellbeing through the arts. So when our teams considered the shortlist of charities at our annual management conference and chose Nordoff Robbins, we knew that we had found a great partner – one which combines a national scope with a very individual approach, enabling us to make a real difference to each person involved.
Nordoff Robbins supports thousands of vulnerable children and adults through life-transforming music therapy sessions. Colleagues tell us they chose the charity because, like them, it is committed to helping the widest range of people possible lead fulfilling lives.
Their therapists work tirelessly and patiently to stimulate memories, draw on people’s creativity and encourage a new kind of communication, reaching out to those who find communication and interaction difficult and for whom music becomes a real liberation and a joy.
One of the greatest challenges facing us as a society is the growth in people living with dementia. It is estimated that, by 2015, 850,000 people in the UK will be living with the condition. As we provide support to many of these people and their families, through our residential and home care services as well as through our new generation of day clubs, we wanted to take a lead in responding to the effects of this debilitating condition through commissioning research showing the benefit music brings to people’s lives.
So I am really pleased that, through the Foundation, we are also working with the Manchester Camerata and Manchester University, backing a project called Music in Mind. This involved musicians from the Camerata collaborating with professional music therapists to run sessions with residents who have dementia at our Station House care home in Crewe, Cheshire.
I visited one of the sessions and the way music enables residents to communicate with their relatives and the team is truly moving. The draft research analysis is ready and provides some fascinating insights into how music therapists and musicians can work together to reach out to people with quite advanced dementia.
As well as these larger initiatives, the Foundation’s first set of Grass Roots grants of up to £2,000 is currently being awarded. Care UK has always had an employee match-funding scheme to support the fundraising work of our services and team members in their own communities. These new grants further strengthen that established commitment to supporting colleagues’ fund-raising efforts.
Our basic criteria were simple – we wanted nominated charities to be geographically close to one of our services and involved in the arts – drama, music, art, crafts poetry or dance – but they did not necessarily have to be nominated by a member of staff.
We wanted evidence of what they had accomplished, as well as clear statements about how the money would be used, but most importantly the nominated groups or charities had to be small and local, so that the money would make a genuine difference to what they could achieve for individuals and the local community.
Working through the nominations was, for me, enjoyable, but also rewarding and humbling – humbling because of the level of commitment and personal time given by those involved in supporting people. We wanted to be inspired by the nominations and we wanted to inspire our own people by supporting projects close to them and their communities.
The projects we are supporting are diverse. We were very impressed with a two-person project that visits rehab clinics using song, dance and stories to support those quitting drugs or alcohol. They combine tremendous commitment and energy – making 40 clinic visits a year.
In separate projects in Brighton and Salisbury we have committed more than £3,500 for new instruments to groups working with young people with learning disabilities. The projects, like our own service, are committed to changing perceptions of what people with learning disabilities can achieve. In Northumberland we have helped fund art and craft materials for children living with cancer through local charity Josie’s Dragonfly Trust and in Peckham we are helping a charity to upcycle discarded items to raise money for patients affected by a rare genetic disorder. A Lincolnshire barbershop group has also benefited with a grant to help pay for sheet music and recordings of the music so that everyone, regardless of their background can join in.
In total we have awarded over £10,000 to local groups and the nominations keep coming in.”