of children experienced a more nurturing family environment, helping them to meet their developmental milestones
of parents felt their wellbeing had improved, allowing them to better meet their children’s needs
of families felt more resilient and better able to cope with challenges
There for Aberdeen’s young children and their familes when they need us most
During 2021-2022 we began to move cautiously out of the global Covid-19 pandemic and back to a more “normal” way of living and working. Hot on the heels of the pandemic came the cost of living crisis, adding more pressure to families already struggling to cope with the impacts of the pandemic.
Throughout the year we continued to support families in very practical ways. Many families told us they were struggling to buy food, clothes, toys, toiletries and other household items. We put them in touch with partner organisations including Cfine, Abernecessities, Somebody Cares and other community projects and services that could help them access basic essentials. For families struggling to pay energy bills, SCARF and Home Energy Scotland were able to provide assistance.
We were able to refer 12 families to Cfine’s SAFE project to help with money and budgeting. We also paid for annual subscriptions for 9 families to Cfine’s Community Food Pantry. This allowed them to access healthy food and increased their food security, as well as allowing them to have a shopping experience offering choice and dignity instead of being dependent on food parcels.
“The food pantry funds came at the right time for me. It has enabled me and my son to have food all the time while I get back on track – for that I am very grateful.”
We received funding from the Scottish Government’s Winter Fund which we were able to use to provide 23 families with supermarket vouchers and help towards energy bills.
“This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve been completely debt free. Everyone says you have the best sleep of your life when you are debt free but I’m the other way. I keep waking up in the middle of the night and sneaking a look at my Rent Arrears balance online, seeing its zero, squealing and being unable to go back to sleep.
Through our partnership with John Lewis we were able to provide 27 families with things they really needed including children’s clothes, toys, furniture, white goods, small electrical items, bedding and other soft furnishings.
“I can’t thank you enough for the wardrobe. It’s not just that it’s new – it’s from John Lewis! I would never be able to afford this myself.”
We identified that many families were missing out on the opportunity to share fun experiences together, which are so important for families’ health and children’s development. We offered 56 families vouchers for a day out at Innoflate soft play centre.
At Christmas we supported 63 families through our All Wrapped Up For Christmas campaign. Local people and businesses donated very generously and we were able to give 115 children winter gift packs containing a warm winter coats and a selection box.
“Thank you so much for everything and for making our Christmas a lovely one.”
Thanks to a very generous donation of panto tickets from Weatherford International we were able to give 24 parents and children the chance to experience the wonder of Beauty and the Beast at His Majesty’s Theatre.
“We had an amazing time and I just loved seeing the joy on my little boy’s face as he took it all in.”
Recipe for Life
Our Recipe for Life healthy project continued to provide families with advice and support on healthy eating. Families taking part received food packs, recipes in easy-to-read and video formats, kitchen equipment packs, one-to-one and small group video cooking sessions led by trained volunteers and staff, and the offer of a year’s membership of Cfine’s Community Food Pantry.
They were also able to join a private Facebook group where they could connect, share recipes and offer advice and tips to each other.
20 families were supported by the project during the year and of those:
reported eating more healthily
of families experienced improved knowledge / skills in cooking.
reported feeling less isolated
reported feeling more financially secure
Perinatal Mental Health Project
More than 1 in 5 women will experience mental health difficulties in pregnancy or during their baby’s first year. Men may also be more vulnerable to mental distress and illness at this time.
Pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life are particularly important for good emotional wellbeing, which is a child’s developing capacity to form close and secure relationships, experience, manage and express a full range of emotions, and explore their environment and learn.
Parents who are suffering from poor mental health may not be able to support the development of good child emotional wellbeing and this can have a lifelong impact on their children.
Our Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support group has been created to provide a safe and nurturing environment for families who are pregnant or have a child aged under one year. It’s a place where they can share experiences and give each other support, encouragement and reassurance. Research has shown that this kind of peer support is extremely effective in helping parents experiencing perinatal mental health difficulties.
8 parents and their babies took part in our first Perinatal Mental Health Peer Support Group.
Rising Stars is our free, weekly group for families where children can play and learn together, and parents can mix in a safe and nurturing environment. The group reduces isolation, encourages social interaction, helps to build stronger parent-child attachment, supports early learning and development through play, and increases parents’ skills and confidence.
Covid restrictions meant we had to continue to be creative in how we delivered Rising Stars during the year. We delivered sessions via Zoom but whenever we could, we moved them outdoors and this proved very popular with parents as well as children. As always, Rising Stars sessions included songs, stories, games, crafts, messy play and lots more fun activities.
During the year 34 families attended Rising Stars sessions:
of children who took part had increased socialising opportunities
experienced improved health and wellbeing
of parents felt less isolated
had increased confidence and self-esteem
had improved mental health
Our Evening Stars parent group meets fortnightly in the evening via Zoom and provides a safe space for parents to connect with other parents. The focus is on self-care, sharing experiences and peer support. Sessions include discussions and activities, as well as plenty of opportunities to catch up socially.
During the year 15 families took part in Evening Stars sessions:
felt less isolated
had increased confidence and self esteem
had improved mental health
After having to close our shop for almost a whole year because of Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, we were thrilled to be able to reopen in the Spring of 2021. Footfall was initially high and this continued throughout the year as people took advantage of the range of high quality, affordable items on offer. One of our biggest challenges was keeping up with demand and getting enough regular donations in.
It’s clear that the charity retail sector has a crucial role to play in the recovery from the pandemic and in helping people and communities to cope with the cost of living crisis that followed it.
All the money we raise in the shop stays in Aberdeen to support the delivery of our services to young children and their families. During 2021-22 this amounted to £29,670.
Fundraising and Supporters
Every year our amazing team of fundraising volunteers organise fundraising events and activities. During 2021-22 the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant we were unable to run our flagship annual themed afternoon tea but thanks to a lot of hard work and creative thinking, we found other ways to raise much-needed funds.
As in previous years a dedicated group of volunteers took part in the Kiltwalk. One Home-Start supporter set himself a target of cycling 250 miles before he reached a milestone birthday. We took part in community events including a Cults Christmas Lights Switch-On and a Strawberry Tea.
Chris, a dad who received support from us, hosted two fantastic fundraising events for us – a Halloween Quiz and a Would I Lie To You night, modelled on the popular TV show. A small team consisting of Karen Smith, one of our fundraising volunteers and 2 parents who had also been supported by us in the past, helped with planning and organising these. It was very special to us that families we had given support to were repaying us by raising funds to allow us to support more families.
All of this hard work and commitment resulted in almost £6,500 being raised, all of which was used to support the delivery of our services.
Christmas All Wrapped Up Appeal
I have given the kids their coats and gloves and put other bits away for Christmas, A was beaming with her jacket she is so happy with it. She feels really proud and smart in it.
The overall position for the year was a surplus of £28,734 (2021: surplus of £18,461) and is made up of a deficit on unrestricted funds of £19,224 and a surplus on restricted funds of £47,958. At 31 March 2022, the charity’s funds totalled £215,343 of which £50,302 was restricted funding provided by a range of funders for specified purposes including the STV Children’s Winter Appeal, Communities and Mental Health Wellbeing Fund, NHS Health Improvement Fund and the Peoples Postcode Lottery. This left £164,041 available for use at the discretion of the trustees.
Our objective is to hold a contingency reserve fund of at least £150,000. Given the uncertainties about securing future funding, the reserve fund should be sufficient to finance about 6 months of ongoing expenditure. At 31 March 2022, we held a reserve fund of £100,000 to which the board will make additional contributions as and when the financial results provide more flexibility.