ENABLE - Keys to Life Time for You
A story by ENABLE Scotland
We provided grants directly to carers who care for a child or adult with learning disabilities.
What ENABLE - Keys to Life Time for You did
Application forms could be downloaded directly from the ENABLE Scotland website, requested through our Facebook page or requested via email. All application form requests were dealt with within 48 hours. The processes and procedures which ENABLE Scotland implemented in the handling of applications before, during and after they had been granted.
As soon as each application was received it was logged and preliminary reviewed by Sarah Gillen, Keys to Life Fund Manager and Jonathan, Keys to Life Fund Administrator. Upon initial review applications in which more information or clarification was required were contacted and asked to provide the necessary details. These were placed in the waiting list to be presented to the panel.
Applications which were fully complete and had no missing information were placed into a waiting list to be presented to the panel. Applications were reviewed by the panel on a monthly basis, with on average 25 applications being considered each time. This was increased to 40 applications in the lead up to the busy Easter and summer holiday periods.
All applicants were contacted within 2 days of the meeting taking place and all successful funds were transferred within 10 working days. Once a successful applicant’s bank account details were received these were entered into a database and securely transferred to our finance department. All funds were transferred within ten working days of bank account details being received, after which all paperwork containing sensitive information was destroyed.
After all BAC transfers had been completed from a panel meeting the administrator received, checked and logged a report from the finance department.
The finance department sent bi-monthly reports to the fund administrator in order to keep a running total of the remainder of the funds left. Applicants were sent emails and letters to keep them up to date with the status of their applications and to inform them of the approximate waiting time they face.
At the peak of the influx of applications the waiting list was often as much as up to 6 months. The ENABLE Scotland Keys to Life Panel consisted of, Sarah Gillen (Grants Manager and Keys to Life Fund Manager), Hazel Mcilwraith (Assistant Director of Fundraising), Nikki Bruce (Personalisation Development Manager), Alison Erwin (Regional Manager), Jonathan Jack (Fundraising Coordinator & Keys to Life Fund Administration), Linda McCaig (Parent of a child who has learning disabilities).
Including a parent/ carer representative in the panel proved difficult as it clashed with ENABLE Scotland’s strict Data Protection procedures and protocol whereby applications could not be posted or distributed outwith our offices due to the sensitive nature of the content contained within. As such, Linda left the panel after the third panel meeting in February 2014 as we were unable to find a suitable resolution to this matter. The panel initially met every six weeks, however after the huge level of demand for the fund was realised this was changed to monthly meetings. On average 20 – 25 applications were reviewed per meeting however this was increased to 40 in the lead up to the busy summer period of June/ July.
The fund was promoted internally via our e-connect e-newsletter and our all staff emails to all of our regional offices. The fund was launched through the ENABLE Scotland Facebook page which has over 2,800 ‘likes’. The post was shared 37 times by various organisations and charitable groups and this caused a huge influx of applications. As such, we have only been required to promote the fund once.
What ENABLE Scotland has learned
There were several challenges and benefits which ENABLE Scotland faced in administering the Keys to Life, Time for You fund. Challenges include, There was an increased work load and pressure on administration resources, there were administration costs of establishing and running the fund such as photocopying and postage.
The Scottish Government’s definition of autism clashed with ENABLE’s own definition. As requested by Shared Care Scotland, applicants who were the carer of a child or adult with a primary diagnosis of autism were required to have a secondary diagnosis of a learning disability in order to be eligible for the Keys to Life Fund. As ENABLE Scotland supports children and adults who have autism and would classify this as a learning disability, this proved to be a difficult and sensitive area.
The huge demand for the fund put pressure on the panel who had their own work commitments and often struggled with managing their time. In the busy Easter and Summer periods the panel would review up to 40 applications per meeting which would take up a considerable amount of time and add pressure to the panel members. Strict data protection procedures made having a parent representative difficult. ENABLE Scotland’s strict Data Protection procedures and protocol whereby applications could not be posted or distributed outwith our offices due to the sensitive nature of the content contained within. As such, our parent panel member left after the third panel meeting in February 2014 as we were unable to find a suitable resolution to this matter.
The viral nature of the fund was difficult to manage. At it peak of the fund the administrator would receive up to 50 requests for applications per day, which strained existing workload. The number of applications we received (510) vs. the number that could be funded (115) was drastically different, the £58,000 of funding did not meet the demand and caused much disappointment to hundreds of families who had applied.
Benefits were, over 115 carers benefited from the fund and had the chance to partake in a short break or activity. These benefits often extended throughout the whole family and in many cases allowed families a chance to get a break together. Carers of disabled children and young people (and those they care for) will have improved well being.
Carers had an opportunity to live a life outside of caring , recharge their batteries and felt better supported to sustain their caring role. Funding provided positive outcomes for carers and those children and young people they care for equally, improving their quality of life, opportunities and well being. Some applicants utilised the funding to take part in a course or learn a new skill allowing the benefits of the fund to continue long into the future.
There were also some cases whereby applicants used their new skills and experiences to help other carers in a similar situation to them and contribute to their local communities by arranging classes and creating local support groups. The fund was widely promoted on our Facebook page, Twitter account, website and e-newsletters introducing new families to the charity who were previous unaffiliated with ENABLE, providing them with opportunities for future support. Young people with learning disabilities had more opportunities for socializing, making friends and trying new experiences.
Children and adults with learning disabilities were able to take part in new experiences and activities whilst partaking in a short break or activity. The feedback from successful carers who extended their gratitude and thanks to the panel was incredibly rewarding. ENABLE Scotland were able to gain experience of how to launch and manage such a fund and have established procedures which can be utilised for future Keys to Life funds or similar.