Celebral palsy charity gets £21k boost

A charity which has been helping children with cerebral palsy for nearly 20 years was left facing an uncertain future after Covid-19 seriously impacted their ability to continue fundraising.

Stick ‘n’ Step was set up in Wallasey in 2002 and has gone from strength-to-strength, prompting them to open a second centre in Runcorn three years ago with help from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Signs and symptoms vary but symptoms often include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles and tremors.

The charity uses conductive education techniques pioneered in Hungary to help improve young people’s mobility and cognitive learning skills and teach tasks like being able to use a cup, going to the toilet, getting dressed and putting shoes and socks on.

With 112 people aged from 0-25 on their books Stick ‘n’ Step had never been more in demand until the coronavirus left them facing a really challenging financial situation.

Janet Ratcliffe, trusts and grants fundraiser at Stick ‘n’ Step, explained: “We don’t receive any government funding so we have to raise everything ourselves. We had to cancel our annual golf day and that really hit our cashflow. We need to raise £660,000 this year and we were on track to reach our target until Covid-19 hit us like a bolt out of the blue.”

The charity furloughed some of their staff but didn’t want to stop all their life-changing work so looked to technology for a solution.

“Because of Covid-19 we couldn’t continue our face-to-face sessions so our conductors are now carrying out virtual remote sessions through video tutorials and phone consultations,” said Janet.

“Our conductors teach the children new skills to improve their mobility, confidence and independence though a planned programme of activities that are personalised to each individual child’s needs. Quite a lot of the young people we see are in wheelchairs and need one-to-one support.

“We didn’t want to undermine the progress the children have already made and many of the families have already told us how helpful they’ve found the virtual sessions.”

Faced with unexpected cashflow difficulties the charity turned to the Steve Morgan Foundation for help and were awarded £21,000 as part of the Covid-19 Emergency Fund.

“The grant has helped us secure the sustainability of the charity and boosted the morale of all the staff,” said Janet. “We were really impressed with how quickly it was turned around. It’s such a relief.”

Explaining how the charity got its name Janet said: “A lot of what we do is to help people learn to walk. They learn to walk by putting their stick down and taking a step, which is where the name comes from.”

All the users have cerebral palsy or a motor impairment and the programme focusses on a range of skills including mobility to speech and cognitive learning, independence and motor skills.

Steve Morgan, founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “I’ve seen the difference Stick ‘n’ Step makes with my own eyes and it left a real impression on me and my wife Sally. That’s the reason we supported the opening of a second centre in Runcorn.  That’s also why we stepped in to award them £21,000 from our Covid-19 Emergency Fund.”

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