WILD Young Parents' Project

Cornwall, UK

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ON THE PATH TO BUILDING THEIR CHARITY'S RESILIENCE

Reflections from WILD Young Parents' Project

‘Fighting crisis after crisis’ is an experience that all too many small charities share nowadays.

And for WILD Young Parents’ Project, the impact of austerity and a rise in demand for its services has meant that the charity has had to explore alternative sources of funding and create a better working structure fit for the future.

With guidance from the CAF Advisory team, who are piloting a two-year programme called CAF Resilience, the charity is now shifting to long-term thinking and away from firefighting on a daily basis.

The programme, which aims to help charities with strategic and financial resilience, is now coming to the end of its first year.

And speaking to CAF, Charity Manager Jo Davies said the programme has already been a ‘transformative experience’.

She said: “As a small charity, we often feel we are fighting crisis after crisis. But the programme will ultimately give us a strong foundation to prepare us for a future where we can keep growing.”


CAF Resilience - one year on

Reflecting on the past year, she told us about the organisation’s new strategic thinking around governance and a newly defined senior management team that has led to staff ‘stepping up and taking responsibilities away from the CEO’, including writing bids for funding.

The charity has also won the GSK Impact Award, which recognises excellence among small to medium-sized charities following a rigorous assessment of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses. Jo said:

“They assessed us as strong on delivery and outcomes, but weaker in some organisational areas, such as vision planning, financial planning, impact reporting, IT systems. Every aspect that was identified, was an aspect we had already identified with CAF, and which we could show them clear plans of how we were addressing the issues, and progress already made. Without the CAF Resilience programme, we would not have been organisationally strong enough to win the award.”

The charity has now switched to a new IT system and even rolled out social media and PR training for its staff, helping to triple its follower base on Instagram and Twitter.

Young mums supported by WILD Young Parents' Project


But the journey wasn't always an easy one...

Taking part in the programme revealed problem areas that were not previously identified or expected, including lack of governance planning and trustee development, weaknesses in impact reporting, staff reaction to change, and the impact of workloads on individuals.

Jo added: “The work has revealed additional issues, that we feel are crucial to future success. It feels like we have made lots of progress, and the whole team are excited by the changes.”

Speaking about the collaboration with Beth, the programme manager for CAF Resilience, Jo said:

“Beth ended up taking much more of a mentoring role than we (or probably she) had expected, as the whole experience was a much more emotional, human one than we had thought. It felt very much like we had exposed our charity and turned it inside out. So, year one had to deal with these issues, but also led to a very outward-looking year two, which has taken us in a bigger and brighter direction than I had originally envisaged.”

She said that as part of the process, the leadership team asked staff to give their input to help form a shared vision with a clearer purpose.

The charity is also now looking into sources of funding that include major donors, corporates or traded income.


About WILD Young Parents' Project

Based in Cornwall, WILD work to support young parents, many who have come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The charity works with mums, dads, and children, running group sessions across Cornwall, focusing on mental health, better relationships and healthy lifestyles, including establishing smoke free homes. It also works with and trains a wide range of organisations.

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