A note from Jon Haward, CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities UK
“As I’m sure you’re aware, coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a considerable impact on us as individuals, families and organisations. In the last two months, it has seriously challenged our ability to provide our core purpose of free accommodation for families with sick children in hospital. On a personal level, I am sure you have all been impacted by this virus in different ways. Certainly, I know that I and my colleagues have had to learn and deliver fast against the daily challenges we have faced.
We estimate that we will have lost nearly 50% of our planned income, as a direct result of COVID-19 this year. It has impacted on every element of our fundraising, including our events as well as losing a major source of income from McDonald’s Customers.
To maintain our Charity on a business-critical level, we made the difficult decision to stop new intakes of families into our Houses, as a way of minimising bringing in or passing around this virus. We closed our four smaller Houses (Tooting, Arrowe Park, Brighton and Moorfields) because we could not achieve social distancing safely. We furloughed nearly half of our employees when the Government launched the Job Retention Scheme, so that we could protect jobs and our remaining income.
This week we have better news, thankfully. We are now starting to increase new family intakes. We still need to ensure health and safety are the priority, as well as social distancing so that we minimise the risk of infection to our families, their children and our employees. We will do this cautiously, continuing to test and learn and if the virus situation changes, we will adapt accordingly. The smaller Houses will remain closed, however, the NHS Trust in Tooting and NHS Lothian in Edinburgh have taken over those Houses to accommodate their medical staff who cannot go home after shift. Even better when we have not yet been able to open Edinburgh to families, but it’s ready to go and fully furnished! It is good to know that we are in a position to help our NHS partners and we will always support their amazing work in any way we can.
We are looking to the future with positivity and a proactive approach. We have a lot of income lost to make up, and so to help us do that we will be bringing back a small number of employees from June 1. The majority, however, will remain on the Job Retention Scheme until we are in a position to provide them with meaningful work in their roles. We are confident that this will happen in the near future and we are extremely grateful for the support from the Chancellor and No. 10 – this is a real lifeline for our Charity.
Equally, you are also key to our survival. We know that your own circumstances may be under pressure, and all we can do is ask that you think of us often and consider taking on a challenge on our behalf to raise funds, or simply set up a regular donation to support us. Every penny does make a difference to our ability to keep on doing what we do best, supporting families when they need us most.