Update 7 April 2020
As the coronavirus situation has developed, we have been continuing to review how we deliver our services to families and adapt to their emerging needs at Variety. We have also had to review our financial position as we face the very real likelihood that our fundraising income will be at least 50% lower this year than it usually is.
The impact that this will have on our work is considerable. Variety has had to face some difficult decisions regarding how we can best mitigate this reduction of income to ensure that we are still here for the children and families we exist to help, now and in the future. With that in mind, we have made the decision this week to furlough around half of our staff from Friday 10 April for an initial period of one month, with support from the UK Government’s coronavirus job retention programme. At the end of this month, we will review our position again.
Remaining colleagues will be working reduced hours for this same period, and will focus on business-critical work in this initial phase of our response to the crisis. As time goes on, our business needs may change and our resources will be adapted to reflect this. The government retention programme allows Variety to be agile while at the same time benefiting from immediate financial support which replaces some of the income we expect to lose over the coming months.
All staff have been notified of our plans to furlough some colleagues, and we are communicating this to key stakeholders and supporters over the course of this week. Where needed, we will arrange for those remaining in work to act as key contacts on behalf of furloughed colleagues, and to take on specific tasks in order to ensure business continuity. If your usual contact at Variety has been furloughed, you can still contact other members of the team if you need to, however please be aware that with a reduced staff team in place, replies may take a little longer than usual.
It is clear that now, more than ever, we need to be an agile, innovative organisation which is able to respond to the ever-changing needs of the vulnerable children we support. With this in mind, we are planning to reach out through our school contacts to families who are in need of extra support for their children while they are spending more time at home. We plan to provide a range of sensory kits that can be used in the home setting to provide parents with ways to engage with their disabled child at a time when they may be feeling incredibly stressed, frustrated and isolated.
Over the coming weeks, we will also be continuing our fundraising activities across all communications channels as a means to address some of the funding shortfall. The children and young people we support need us now more than ever, and we hope that the measures we have taken will ensure we can recover quickly when this crisis is over, and that we will be able to reach even more families.
If you have recently made a donation to support Variety’s work with disabled and disadvantaged children, thank you so much.
Update 24 March 2020
At Variety, we have been monitoring the coronavirus situation closely over the past few weeks. As with most charities across the UK, we anticipate some disruption to our services and are looking at how we can keep these to a minimum. The health and wellbeing of our beneficiaries, volunteers, and staff is our top priority.
In line with current government guidance, all Variety offices in the UK will shut from Monday, 23 March for an initial period of one month. Our staff will continue to work from home, but will not be able to attend face-to-face meetings or events until the country as a whole is in a position to resume normal working practices and routines. We do not yet know when this might be, but we are expecting to work in this new way for at least a month.
While parts of our business can continue to operate as usual, other aspects of our work will be impacted as we navigate our new remote-working processes. This means response times to donations and requests may be slower, and we will have to postpone or even cancel fundraising events and Great Days Out planned for the next few months. Where possible, we will be working with our partners and funders to make contingency plans for these and hope to be able to update our contacts in due course.
If you need to contact anyone at Variety over the coming weeks, please use the same contact details as usual and we will try to respond to queries in a timely manner.
We appreciate that the families and organisations we work with are all facing challenging times, and hope to be able to support you all again as soon as possible. From everyone at Variety, we hope all of our supporters, beneficiaries, and volunteers are well and taking good care of themselves at this difficult time.