An important update from Smile Group

The current climate

As a small but ambitious charity, Smile has a 13 year track record of supporting families across Cheshire East experiencing perinatal mental health challenges. Demand for our blend of services has increased year-on-year due to capacity issues across the health system and high thresholds for specialist perinatal mental health services.

In the spirit of honesty, we’d like to acknowledge how challenging the third sector is right now. Budget cuts in statutory provision are being felt viscerally in the grassroots and grant opportunities are more competitive than ever, so while the quality of our submissions hasn’t changed, the chances of securing funding have diminished significantly. A number of grants that we anticipated would come in have not come to fruition, which is symptomatic of what is happening more widely across the charity sector.

While our service continues to be in demand, we find ourselves in a challenging position. There are some exciting long-term funding opportunities in the pipeline and we are working extremely hard to underpin our sustainability, while also being transparent and clear in our communication to our team, service beneficiaries and stakeholders about the current situation.

Staffing changes

Following a change in staffing, unfortunately, we are not in a position to recruit a new Wellbeing Practitioner until we have the surety of a more secure financial picture. We know from the turbulent nature of the third sector, that things can change quickly and we very much hope that this is a short-term measure, as we work hard behind the scenes to steady cash-flow.

Reduced service offer

From March 2024 we will, unfortunately, be reducing our service offer to responsibly manage the situation, while enabling support services to continue. This means that our current service of 4 x weekly peer support groups will change and we will instead be rotating peer support groups across the localities to offer continuity.

The reduced service will be as follows:

Groups will rotate, running at the following locations:

  • Crewe - 11th March, 25th March
  • Sandbach – 5th March, 19th March 
  • Congleton – 13th March, 27th March
  • Macclesfield – 1st March, 8th March, 22nd March
  • Talk Therapy will reduce to fortnightly, except with prior discussions.
  • 1:1 will continue but on a reduced service. The referrals will continue to be looked at on a Tuesday and actioned in order. If professionals are able to encourage people to attend groups they do not need a referral and can attend group sessions.

We are acutely aware of the needs of vulnerable families who benefit from our services and will continue to liaise closely with colleagues in the clinical network to make them aware of the implications of what we hope will be a temporary measure.

How can you help?

We know that Smile’s work is essential within the heart of our local communities and we would like to invite you to support us in our efforts to secure the sustainability of our service. Smile has an integrated strategy to support its long-term funding, but we need your help in the short-term to navigate the challenges we’re facing.

We’re launching a crowd funder to enable people to give as much as they feel able to, whether you’re a current or former beneficiary, a stakeholder, ‘friend of Smile’ or a business who is moved to give back. We’re setting a target of £15,000, which will support our viability by giving us the vital capacity to focus on our long-term funding cycles.

To demonstrate the impact of your support, here’s a guide to the difference your donations can make:

  • £5 pays for a hot drink and some snacks at our groups – it’s the small touches that make a difference
  • £25 enables a new or expectant parent to have a session with one of our counsellors
  • £55 pays for a volunteer to assist at the weekly groups
  • £100 contributes to 6 hours of 1:1 home visits
  • £150 helps to fund the Family sessions

Please donate here if you wish to support us: https://gofund.me/d6b47762

We truly appreciate your support – please don’t hesitate to contact us via hello@smilegroup.org.uk  if you have any questions.

Thank you

The Smile Team

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