Award saves one of Liverpool’s oldest charities

The chief executive of one of Liverpool’s oldest charities has said an emergency grant of £47,400 probably saved it from not being able to deliver critical services.

Bradbury Fields Services for Blind and Partially Sighted people (formerly known as the Liverpool Voluntary Society for the Blind (LVSB) was established in 1857, to provide a scripture reading  service for blind people in their own homes.

In 2017,  Bradbury Fields was awarded theFreedom of the City by Liverpool City Council, –the highest honour the city can bestow – in recognition of the charity’s unstinting service over 160 years.

However, CEO Phil Longworth was fearing the worst after Covid-19 cut the charity’s income by 45 per cent overnight.

“At the point of Covid-19 striking we didn’t have enough money to run the core services of the organisation,” he said. “A lot of fundraising stopped and we lost a lot of money from not running our Bistro or  being able to hire out our venue for events.”

In desperation Bradbury Fields applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation and were given £47,400 from their Covid-19 Emergency Fund, with the money going into their bank account within a few days.

Phil said: “It was absolutely critical to us in so many ways. We didn’t know if we would be able to run our critical services. I almost think the money may have saved Bradbury Fields. It eased our considerable cash-flow difficulties.”

The charity works with 5,000 people across Liverpool who are registered as blind or having a serious sight impairment.

They work with people from the point of hospital diagnosis and provide help with rehabilitation, equipment, advice and a wide range of activity clubs. The age of members ranges from 18 to 102 although three quarters are aged over 65.

Phil said: “Covid-19 meant he had to close our centre and stop our face-to-face sessions which was heart-breaking. A lot of the people we work with are already socially isolated and the lockdown made that even worse.

“However the grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation enabled us to maintain some of our services, introduce chatrooms, keep telephone contact with our users and develop  a Facebook group called Bradbury Besties.

“We are adjusting to new ways of working and have all further developed our IT skills in ways we not have imagined. We’re using Zoom for staff meetings. We can use Zoom to stay in contact with some of our service users but clearly it’s not appropriate for everyone so telephone contact is still vital”.

“Nobody knows how long Covid-19 will be around but it’s vitally important that Bradbury Fields is here at the end of it.”

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “Bradbury Fields  has been helping the people of Liverpool for 160 years. Through no fault of its own it found itself with an immediate cashflow problem  which could have prevented it from delivering its critical services. That why we stepped in.”

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