Our Decision to Cancel our Charity Ball & The Concerning Times Ahead for People Across PerthshireAugust 15th 2022, By Graham Illsley
Two years ago, we started to plan our Golden Anniversary Charity Ball, celebrating 50 years of supporting people and communities across Perth & Kinross. Today, working alongside others, we now help over 6,000 people live-life-better every year.
Sadly, we came to the difficult decision to cancel our Charity Ball. Supporters across Perthshire have told us that they cannot afford to buy tickets, are concerned about what the coming months will bring, and are reluctant to spend money when the future is so uncertain.
For many of our beneficiaries, budgeting and managing money is an enormous worry and can be detrimental to their wellbeing. While promoting our Charity Ball, talking to those we support, and listening to people throughout Perthshire, it has become clear that the cost-of-living crisis is the biggest challenge that they have faced in decades.
Whilst it is a disappointment for us as an organisation that our celebration will not take place, the precarious months ahead are of much greater significance, and how that will impact the individuals, families, and communities we readily engage with is our overriding priority.
We are a charity that strives to help those in their times of greatest need, we will be here to support everyone who needs our help in the future and will always work to improve the lives of the people of Perth & Kinross.
If you are in a position to support us, please visit www.pkavs.org.uk/support-us to donate to our charity today.
In the rest of this article, read about the challenges facing individuals and organisations throughout Perth & Kinross and how we plan to support them.
PKAVS Carers Hub
Our Carers Hub fully anticipates having to support a great many Young Carers’ families over the Festive Season, much more so than in previous years. For many Young Carers’ families, Christmas is already difficult, as over 50% of the Young Carers registered with PKAVS come from single-parent households.
For those who have both parents at home, either one or both can’t work due to the cared-for person’s diagnosis. This means finances across a large percentage of Young Carer families can be very tight. Being able to afford gifts for their children this year will be a bigger struggle than ever before, so we will do all we can this year to make sure Young Carer’s Christmases are as good as they can possibly be.
A significant number of unpaid carers have no choice but to spend a large amount of their time indoors, mainly because of the cared-for person’s diagnosis, for example, they may have dementia or experience mental health or mobility issues. For many, this will mean they face the prospect of being at home, but with no heating on, as they won’t be able to afford the soaring costs. The alternative for others will be to cut back on their weekly grocery bill. Some will have to do both.
A Full Fact article found that around 25,260 excess deaths occurred in Great Britain over the winter of 2018/19, and most were in people of pension age. Cold weather was a major contributor to these deaths. We are yet to see the severity of the situation in 2022/23.
At the start of 2022, our Carers Hub delivered the Winter Recovery Fund. We do all that we can to help those during difficult times, but without additional funding from other sources, the support we are able to provide is limited by financial constraints.
PKAVS Minority Communities Hub
Our Minority Communities Hub is already seeing a stark increase in support required for financial issues, including debt and rising household bills.
Like many services, we are considering how we can bring in additional capacity to support communities through what will undoubtedly be a difficult winter. Evidence has shown that BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, our work with those from minority ethnic communities is vital in addressing this.
Our employees provide one-to-one casework and signposting to our wide range of partners with specific areas of expertise. We will continue to explore additional and creative ways to support individuals to face financial difficulties with confidence and attempt to secure the funding we need to implement these approaches.
PKAVS Third Sector Interface
Our Third Sector Interface Team will soon welcome several new members of staff, one of whom will be working specifically with local groups, charities, and organisations around financial sustainability and creative methods of income generation to support them to weather the challenges ahead.
As the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) recently highlighted, half of all charities in Scotland are struggling with an increase in transport and energy costs; Perth & Kinross is not immune to these difficulties, and PKAVS Third Sector Interface will have a vital role to play in supporting the local Third Sector to carry on its essential work as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.
A recently published article by Prospect Magazine emphasised that charities provide vital support for struggling people – but they are also feeling the squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation.
The article said of charities, “They have been among the most compelling voices calling for greater help from the government for the people they support. This weekend, over 70 charities and community organisations signed a letter calling on the two remaining Conservative Party leadership candidates to show “compassion and leadership” to those on low incomes by significantly increasing the support on offer to meet soaring energy and food costs.”
PKAVS Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub
With increasing numbers of people experiencing financial difficulties, we expect feelings of self-worth, shame, frustration, hopelessness, and worry to be evidenced to an even greater extent. People may feel alone while facing these worrying circumstances, but we want them to know that there are always people and places that they can turn to for contact and support.
PKAVS will offer consistent and meaningful social opportunities to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, boost self-worth, and create a sense of pride in the personal achievements that they accomplish within our service.
We are preparing for a rise in financial hardship-related referrals; with issues such as debt potentially being at the forefront of mental health distress and crises. The service will be available to support service users attending financial-related appointments while advocating on their behalf where appropriate.
Additionally, our trained employees will support service users to manage financial-related correspondence, such as bills, which may cause additional distress and worry.
Members of our team will be attending ongoing welfare benefits training, ensuring that our service is up to date with accessible benefits and crisis grants available, as well as working closely with organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau and Welfare Rights.
In previous years, our Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub has asked service users to donate £2 every month to help cover the costs of refreshments and materials. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation has not been asked for, with the service covering the full cost.
Support from members of the public and organisations helps us to provide external excursions and activities free of charge, significantly increasing the range of opportunities that we can offer.
“PKAVS turns 50 this year and our plan was to have a Charity Ball full of celebration and sparkle to mark the occasion. We did not foresee the cost-of-living crisis when we made our initial plans pre-pandemic, back in 2020. The world has changed significantly since then, and we must adapt to the new environment we find ourselves in.
Like many charities, our fundraising efforts, which contribute to our core costs, and keep the lights on, have taken a hit. Our staff team will be back to the drawing board, exploring alternative ideas to celebrate with our stakeholders, clients, and communities.
Our overriding priority is always the wellbeing of those we support. We are very aware of the challenges that the coming months will bring for many, and we continuously look for ways to address the evolving needs of individuals, families, organisations, and communities across Perthshire.”
Lori Hughes – PKAVS Interim Chief Executive