A UTTOXETER charity has ‘with great sadness’ closed its doors as its increasing demand meant trustees could no longer keep it sustainable.
Rakemark Respite, a holiday club for children with special needs and disabilities, has made the shock announcement that it will no longer be able to provide its services at Rocester Children’s Centre as demand has increased so much over the last year that it is no longer possible for committee members to be to carry out their work on a voluntary basis.
Trustee Karen Botterell, who was a founding members alongside Sue McGarry, said it was an emotional time for everyone involved.
She said: “I think we have been victims of our own success as we had so many families wanting to access our service and we just haven’t got enough money to carry on. It was a very difficult decision to make.
“We had a lot of families needing our service as the only other ones in Staffordshire are stay and play which means they couldn’t drop children off and go to work.
“It is very, very sad news and we are heartbroken. We feel desperately sorry for the families and like we are letting them down but we could not keep doing it.”
Mrs Botterell said last year alone they needed to raise £18,000 to pay for self-employed contractors to look after the children but they only raised £12,000. However, they had money left over from the previous year to cover the shortfall but they are not in that position now.
The money received through grants could not be used to cover the cost of the staff. The charity also was left with six committee members when they needed 10 as people were volunteering their own time alongside full-time jobs.
It was when the child protection officer, who was a voluntary committee member, decided she could not renew her position due to her demanding work commitments that the trustees found it would become more difficult.
Mrs Botterell said: “With the charity becoming so big we needed not just volunteers, but they needed the right skills set so we really needed to be able to employ someone. Being the treasurer for the last four years has been a learning curve for me as it has not been easy. We really needed to employ someone.
“We also did not have the money to employ a fund-raising team. We took the decision a few weeks ago not to open in the summer as we knew that by the second or third week we would have run out of money. That is when we asked if we could carry on doing it like this.
“People were getting tired and that’s when mistakes start to happen. We didn’t want to be in a position where as a committee we felt out of our depth looking after children with special needs.
“We started to talk about the sustainability and called a meeting where we invited all of the parents as we wanted them to understand what was going on.”
The committee has thanked everyone who supported them.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM RAKEMARK RESPITE
“It is with deep sadness that the trustees of Rakemark Respite must announce the closure of the charity. Over the past four years we have had the privilege and pleasure of being able to provide a holiday club for children with special needs and disabilities whilst giving respite to their families.
“Over the last 12 months the increase in the number of children wishing to access our service has meant that the workload has increased to such an extent that it is no longer possible for committee members to be able to carry out the full extent of their roles on a voluntary basis whilst also maintaining their other work commitments causing them to make the decision not to stand for a role on the committee in the forthcoming year.
“In addition funding streams available to the charity together with fund raising events which the committee were able to organise do not cover the increase in costs.
“This difficult decision was made at a recent meeting called to discuss the sustainability of the charity where it was highlighted that the shortfall in funds not only meant insufficient cash reserves to open for the summer period in 2014 but that the current shortfall would increase significantly throughout 2015.
“In line with the Charity’s Constitution all assets and funds remaining after outstanding expenditure has been met will be allocated by the Charity Trustees to Charities within Staffordshire who operate under the same charitable purposes as Rakemark Respite. A full set of accounts for the year 2014/15, complete with disbursements, will be available via the charity’s appointed auditors, The Chartwell Practice, Burton-upon-Trent, by the end of October 2014.
“The committee would like to thank all those who have supported us over the last four years, which has been an incredible journey for this organisation.
“Without this support we would not have been able to help the children and families that have accessed our facility. We wish all the children and families that have joined us during the last four years all the very best for their future.”