Coming together through the coronavirus crisis

Children 1st Head of Public Fundraising, Susan Bradley, writes about fundraising and supporting vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis.
Two years ago, we launched our ambitious new strategic priorities. In order to achieve these goals, the leadership team have encouraged us to bring our whole selves to work. For me, and for many of us just now, this looks like my 7-year-old interrupting work meetings for a comfort cuddle. This blend of personal and professional is not easy, but at Children 1st, it is understood.

I don’t think of Children 1st as my place of work or as an employer. I think of Children 1st as a family; a collective group of people who have a commitment to each other and to the important work that we do. For me, this is the Children 1st way. 

My last ‘office based’ working day was in our East Renfrewshire Hub. Part of their success here is in ensuring that the many complex dynamics and evolving priorities never steer away from the core purpose of ‘investment in relationships’. This same core purpose is just as crucial for fundraising.  

In the past, our fundraising updates focused on how quickly we reached a target or filled spaces at an event. While important, this list of achievements does not motivate or inspire action. We realised that to truly connect with our volunteers and supporters, we must share our vision and tell stories about the children and families that we work with. A phrase by Antoine de Saint-Exupery comes to mind: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather the wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the endless immensity of the sea”.

When lockdown began, we feared for the future of our fundraising. We feared for the families that we work with, and the many others that would need support during this difficult time. To meet the increased and critical need for our support, we launched an emergency appeal. Even during lockdown, our supporters found ways to fundraise as part of the #TwoPointSixChallenge. Bake sales, runs, cycles, trampoline jumps, and online exercise challenge created by 26 Olympians – all raising a phenomenal £26,000 in total.

Our Deeside Fundraising Committee have moved the Banchory Bangle raffle online for the first time in it’s 43-year history. A group of NHS nurses working on the front line are running 10K to support the children and families facing additional pressure during lockdown. This incredible group have already smashed their target of £1,000 and show no sign of slowing down. Our family of supporters are still here, still standing alongside children and families and finding new virtual ways to continue our fundraising during lockdown.

I often think of the families that have lost loved ones due to coronavirus. These are the losses that we can see. The invisible losses in today’s society are the children who can’t call home a safe place. The families buckling under the pressure to keep a smile on their face when they are worried where the next pay day is coming.  It’s the silent cries of these mums, dads, grandparents, guardians that we hear at Children 1st.  The silent tears of the children who miss the safe haven of school.  We hear through Parentline, the voices of families that aren’t heard in other places. It’s our, my, responsibility to make sure their voices are heard.  It’s my responsibility to motivate our family of supporters to understand and stand alongside every child in Scotland who needs safety, security, and time to recover.

You might have heard the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Children 1st is that village. Our family of volunteers, staff and supporters are all pulling together for one shared purpose.

I look at my two boys and know every day I’m trying. Some days I feel like super mum, and others I’m too overwhelmed to think straight. With compassion and understanding, we will build this village of families together – and with your help, support, and dedication, we will be there for the unheard voices of children in Scotland.