There has been lots of activity so far in the consultation and public engagement about the proposal to close CLIC Sargent's holiday service at Malcolm Sargent House.
CLIC Sargent’s management team have been openly discussing this proposal with staff, service users, supporters, MPs, including a live Facebook Q&A and via email; responding to questions and discussing ideas and thoughts on alternative proposals.
Talking to others
During this consultation period we have been in discussion with and responding to current and past service users as much as we possibly can through our Facebook page, emails and calls but also meeting with people where possible. Our service teams have been trying to alleviate any concerns about the frontline personal support we want to protect for families and how we would help families to access holidays from a range of other providers in the UK if the proposal to close Malcolm Sargent House goes ahead. As part of this, the Director of Services had a lively debate with young people from across the country about the services they valued, as some of the two out of three children and young people with cancer in the UK the Charity currently supports, and the challenge we face in aiming to reach all young cancer patients who need our help.
Supporting staff and volunteers
Of course one of our biggest concerns is the impact of the proposal on our staff and volunteers. Our holiday service at Malcolm Sargent House is an excellent service that we have been proud of for many years, and we absolutely want to be respectful to our staff and volunteers that the proposal affects. Our Assistant Director for CLIC Sargent Scotland has been in detailed discussions as part of the legal consultation process to support the team at the house throughout this period.
Local support for CLIC Sargent in Ayrshire is amazing and we understand the strength of feeling in the local area, which has included a petition, a protest march in Prestwick and a local media campaign.
Our Chief Executive Kate Lee and the CLIC Sargent Scotland team have spoken with lots of supporters and campaigners recently who have understandably asked questions about why money raised locally can’t be used to fund the house. We have been providing detailed information about how the money raised in Ayrshire and the money raised as restricted for Malcolm Sargent House isn’t enough to cover its running costs. Plus information about how historic donations have been invested in things like the upfront building costs of the new Home from home in Glasgow; making every penny we get each year work as hard as possible to deliver services year in year out.
We’ve also been explaining - considering the challenging fundraising environment across the UK- why the Charity feels strongly that we can’t gamble with the frontline services that families depend upon and need to ensure the organisation continues to be financially stable.
We have contacted, offered meetings and briefings to a range of local politicians, MPs and MSPs including the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport in Scotland. Through our contact with the local MP and MSP we’ve had some helpful discussions about the background to the proposal and have provided more detailed information to help them explore specific ideas such as the level of refurbishment and adaptations the holiday home building would need to become a regulated respite centre.
This has also given us the opportunity to talk about the range of services CLIC Sargent provides for young cancer patients and their families in Scotland and the financial pressure put on the Charity due to two of the specialist hospitals in Glasgow and Edinburgh moving – which means we have to find new sites and build new Homes from Home accommodation nearby.
Listening to experiences of staff
CLIC Sargent has social care, nursing and regional fundraising teams across the UK who work with the families we support. During this consultation period the Charity’s Executive team have also been gathering their views and listening to the experience of these frontline staff about what they feel are the big priorities and key challenges in meeting the increasing need to provide support for more families for longer; whilst facing the financial challenge of decreasing income.
Alternative ideas or proposals
We have had more detailed discussions with people who have alternative ideas or proposals for the house. The Charity Commission has detailed legal guidance and we have been encouraging those with ideas to seek some expert advice.
In addition we have put together a note on what requirements CLIC Sargent needs to consider linked to this guidance. Anyone who is interested in understanding what steps would need to be followed to create a social enterprise/a local charity to run the holiday service at Malcolm Sargent House and would like these details please email: email@example.com
As part of information gathering ahead of the Charity’s Board of Trustees decision making process we have also received an updated desktop valuation of the property, which is estimated at approximately £1.75m.
Malcolm Sargent House has strong emotional connections for CLIC Sargent and the families we support who have visited it. This is particularly so for the family who have chosen it as a place for some of their child’s ashes. Our Director of Services has been in regular discussion with this family and we are doing everything in our power to understand this family’s wishes and respect them.
If you have any questions, concerns or alternative proposals you would like CLIC Sargent to consider, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. After the consultation period closes the Charity’s Executive team will deliberate on the information gathered through the process before recommending an option to the Board of Trustees for their decision.