Charity looks to the future after ‘hardest ever’ year

A Cheshire charity which provides specialist physiotherapy treatment for people with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions is looking to the future after the hardest year in its history.

The NeuroMuscular Centre in Winsford had to mobilise alternative virtual services as a result of Covid-19 and saw its revenues drop by more than £300,000 in six months.

The Steve Morgan Foundation is a long-term supporter of the charity and awarded them £90,000 from the Community Match Challenge (CMC) Fund alongside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Grants and contracts manager Lyndsey Cannon-Potts said: “The grant from the Community Match Challenge (CMC) Fund was an absolute lifesaver while the long-term support from the Steve Morgan Foundation has been a godsend to us.” 

The NeuroMuscular Centre is the centre of excellence for people with neuromuscular conditions and provides a range of services including physiotherapy, active exercise and hydrotherapy, vocational training and accessible employment opportunities as well as practical advice and emotional support.

In addition to this they also provide regular breaks for carers and transition support specifically for young people.

Part of the charity’s income comes from the delivery of specialist physiotherapy service but this had to be suspended due to the lockdown and only restarted in autumn 2020 at 20 per cent capacity.

The organisation also has a thriving social enterprise print and design business but this was also badly hit by the pandemic.

Along with a dip in fundraising the NeuroMuscular Centre estimate annual revenues will be down to £850,000 from pre-Covid levels of £1.2m.

Lyndsey Cannon-Potts said: “Needless to say it was a very difficult time for everyone involved. We work with people with a range of neuromuscular conditions so Covid is particularly dangerous to their health.”

The charity applied to the Community Match Challenge (CMC) Fund and were awarded nearly £90,000.

The first tranche of nearly £45,000 from the DCMS paid for a vital new Covid Safety Officer role and a 40 per cent contribution to the salary costs of four existing members of staff.

As part of the match-funding, the Steve Morgan Foundation awarded the charity the same amount of money to cover the salary of a much-needed role in fundraising and admin support.

The Steve Morgan Foundation has previously given the NeuroMuscular Centre more than £200,000 in support and a Smiley Bus in 2016.

Lyndsey said: “Although our revenues have dropped during Covid our cost base didn’t drop accordingly and that’s why the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation and DCMS has been vital.

“As part of our new Covid policy, staff are all regularly tested and all visitors have to have a negative lateral flow test.

“We have around 3,000 people in our community and work with around 500 people on a regular basis with neuromuscular conditions.

“Our neuromuscular gym is the only one of its kind in the country and has 30 types of specialist equipment.”

The charity recently held their  delayed 30th birthday party after it had to postponed in 2020.

Lyndsey said: “Understandably some people who have been shielding are still a bit anxious and the birthday party was an important step as things re-open up.

“It was also an opportunity to thank all our supporters, volunteers and whole community who have helped us over the last 18 months.”

 

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