Annual Review 2023
OUR MISSION STATEMENT:
“To advance the education of Deaf Children and young people and their families in particular, but not exclusively, by the provision of training and resources to empower children, promoting independence and social inclusion”
- To advance education
- Empower deaf young people up to the age of 30 who have various degrees of hearing loss
- Help overcome barriers and promote independence;
- Build confidence and self-esteem;
- Be led by our members.
CHAIR OF TRUSTEES REPORT
As Phoenix celebrates another year of success in 2023, we continue to bring people and organisations together to drive change in society and deliver a better service across Hertfordshire. This year there were a number of important achievements for Phoenix which focused on our core purpose to advance education, empower deaf young people, build confidence and overcome barriers in the local communities. We continued to be user led and have seen increased positive engagement with our families and members.
With increasing confidence in our work and the continued support from all our funders we have continued to move forward with programmes and recruit the much needed and skilled staff to support and grow the provisions. I would like to express a warm welcome to Jodie who has joined the team as our Activities Co-ordinator. Our existing team members Angela, Sam, Laura, Caitlyn and Will, who have continued to play an important role in not only strengthening the organisation, but also ensuring our work is led by our families and that work is achieved to a high quality and standard. Furthermore, my grateful thanks go to Beryl for continuing to support Phoenix and in particular the Finances and Board in a voluntary capacity.
Our CEO Julie has been extremely busy and among many initiatives and fundraising efforts has also continued to refresh many of our much-needed policies and governance procedures during the year which have been discussed and approved by the Board. Safeguarding remains at the forefront of our thinking and work at Phoenix. Earlier in the year we gave thanks to Jacquie Hime who stepped down from the board and has over the past years been very supportive towards the work of the organisation.
I am delighted to inform you that Lilia Santos was appointed to the Board earlier this year and has been supportive with looking at and discussing the organisation’s finance processes and procedures. Lilia is a mother to two young children who attend Phoenix events and activities. We also welcome Phil Linnegar to the board, who has much experience in the charity sector, currently CEO of Herts Hearing Advisory Service. We are already benefitting from Phil’s guidance and look forward to his continued support. Along with the rest of the board, I give thanks for their time and support over the year to the organisation. Our Advisory Trustee, Laure Fraval, has been invaluable with advice around recruitment and HR and are most thankful to have her expertise. We are still on the look - out for new trustees to join the board and will soon be advertising opportunities for individuals to apply for this role.
As an organisation, the board and staff alike have worked hard this year discussing and progressing forward with our strategy for the organisation recognising our strengths and areas of growth. We have shared with you all an overview of this and our priorities, and will have a final consultation period at our December families’ party and AGM.
A heartfelt thank you to all our members for your continued support during the past year. We are very grateful for the support and donations we have received, enabling Phoenix to continue to be vital for the families and individual members it supports.
On a final note, I give thanks to Julie, who, through continued hard work and strong leadership, has continued to steer the organisation through the long-lasting challenges over the past couple of years, she has been successful in obtaining the grants and awards to support the much-needed activities and programmes.
As we move forward, I am excited for our families of Phoenix as our services develop to support their unique information and support needs whilst also shifting our focus to meet the priority areas highlighted in our strategic plan.
Chair of Trustees
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S REPORT
I am very pleased to report that we have had a fantastic year. Staffing has been more stable this year which has resulted in Phoenix delivering more projects and services; helping more children and young people achieve more positive outcomes. As our Communities Participation Leader, Sam’s energy and enthusiasm in delivering fun and educational programmes is exceptional, as is Laura’s dedication in supporting individuals and families, providing communication support, as well as producing all of our BSL videos ensuring that our online presence is fully inclusive. Our Administrator and my PA, Angela, continues to support all of us in our roles and is now learning BSL herself in order to improve communications with our membership. Sessional staff Will and Caitlin are also on their BSL journey with Will starting level 1 and Caitlin now a level 2 student.
In October we welcomed Jodie who joined the team as our Activities Co-ordinator, this role allows delivery staff to focus more of their time on working directly with our membership. Jodie has been working hard to learn about the charity and deafness and her work is already proving to be extremely helpful to the team. I would like to thank all of the team for their hard work and dedication in supporting our membership.
Our young adults group for members who also have learning disabilities has developed once again and is currently attended by new and previous members who have returned to the group. This group are focusing on developing life skills and we are seeking funds to expand the learning opportunities for these members.
Twelve youth members, predominately attending Knightsfield and Heathlands Schools, are currently working hard to achieve their DofE silver award. We are delighted to engage so many young people in this project and are thankful to our funders, The Tweed Foundation, for their patience and understanding whilst we developed this project.
Our monthly family project ‘Family Hide Out’ which was funded by Comic Relief had been effective at bringing families together and giving them the opportunity to share experiences of parenting a deaf child. The project also engaged both children and parents in fun and creative activities together. We continue to offer this monthly session and at the time of writing this report, are waiting on the outcome of a funding application to deliver a monthly community hub where deaf families and young adults can come to use a food bank and get other means of assistance in these challenging times. If you are a member and experiencing financial hardship, please get in touch as we would like to help.
Once again, this year has seen an increase in our membership of families with younger children, and we support their participation in programmes through the Short Breaks Local Offer (SBLO). This is a Hertfordshire County Council funding stream that this year has supported us further to include children from 5 years +, it was 8+ in previous years. We are hopeful that SBLO will continue to support our work with deaf children and young people aged 5-18 years, especially as the cost of living crisis is impacting upon families and their need to have low cost, supported engagement with other families and services. Our monthly family sessions funded by Comic Relief has also been beneficial in supporting children and families in Hertfordshire.
We have been delighted to work with Sign Reach again throughout this year, they continue to deliver BSL level 1 and 2 at the Phoenix centre which we have promoted to our families and in which three members of staff are participating in. Adam from Sign Reach also delivers BSL practice groups and Deaf Awareness training for us at the Phoenix centre and to organisations in the community. If you know of an organisation who would benefit from Deaf Awareness /BSL training, please get in touch.
Our wonderful volunteer Beryl continues to work hard for the charity and I cannot express how grateful I am for her ongoing support which is invaluable. Thank you Beryl! I would also like to express my thanks and gratitude to all of our volunteers who help with the delivery of services and the Trustee Board who ensure that the charity is managed effectively.
We are extremely thankful to our funders and fundraisers who have supported the charity and especially to the Big Lottery Fund who have supported the charity for over ten years. With only a few months until our Lottery fund comes to an end, we are working towards securing alternative funds and developing our fundraising initiatives. We are delighted to have secured Children in Need funding which will help support the core costs of the charity over the next three years, this will significantly support the charity in our future fund-raising challenges.
I close on a positive note, we are confident about the future; developing our partnerships and identifying new initiatives to help us become more sustainable. Our finances are healthy and our reserve funds continue to grow annually. The trustees and I will focus on maintaining this level of security for the charity and ensuring we continue to be a viable and successful charity in Hertfordshire.
I wish everyone a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.
Our services and projects this year
- Short Breaks Local Offer (HCC) Holiday programmes for Early Birds (5-7) Flyers (8-13) and Youth (11-17)
- Phoenix Plus (17-30) out of term social events and weekly Life skills project
- Deaf, Young, Hertfordshire; empowering young people to be heard!
- Individual support
- Sports sessions in Knightsfield and Heathlands’ schools
- The Duke of Edinburgh Award
- British Sign Language tutoring for individuals and families in need of developing communication.
- Work skills opportunities for young people
- LGBTQ+ group
- Parents termly meetings
- Cycling proficiency training
- BSL practice groups
- Deaf Awareness and Introduction to British Sign Language courses
VOLUNTEERING AT PHOENIX
We are most grateful to those who volunteer at Phoenix and are especially grateful to our long standing volunteer Beryl, who has been invaluable to the charity for many years. Here, Beryl gives us an insight into her role with the charity.
“Little did I know that in 2013, when my daughter suggested I volunteer to help Phoenix with their admin, that I would still be here today!
Back then we were in a mobile unit in the car park in front of the Gordon Craig theatre. It was rent free but not ideal. Eventually the Council decided they could demolish the unit and make 4 parking spaces to generate some income, so found us a new home. This was on the 13th floor of Southgate House – lovely views but the size of a football pitch – there were 4 of us rattling around in there.
At that time, a typical day at the office was helping with general admin, filing, writing thank you letters, ordering supplies, etc. We had another volunteer doing the finances and when they moved away from the area, I offered to learn how to do that job. Phoenix was continuing to grow so an administrator was recruited as the workload increased. The rest, as they say, is history.
The office block was sold to developers and we successfully secured the Hyde Out. It was quite a task setting up in our new home while continuing to provide services and support to our members. In those days I was coming into the office three or four days a week.
Things have changed a little since Covid – once we were set up to work from home, it was clear that I could continue to do so and now I come into the office only once or twice a week. I work closely with Julie keeping track of our finances – this is an important part of the job – it is vital that the funds are applied correctly and close track is kept of spending.
My previous work experience means that I have some IT skills to offer. Consequently, I am the ‘IT department’ for Phoenix – looking after the laptops and software. Helping with spreadsheets and preparing stats for funders is often on the work agenda. I also help with the board of trustees, taking minutes and serving on the finance sub-committee.
It’s not a role which means I get to meet our members (apart from at the Christmas Party and AGM or at the Pantomime!) – but I know that the volunteering I do means that Phoenix runs smoothly. I plan to continue as long as they’ll have me!”
Volunteers painted our garden wall
PHOENIX STRATEGY 2024 – 2027 OVERVIEW
Our work has been very much directed by our membership, as a result of our consultation with families and this has helped us to create our new strategy which will be launched in January 2024.
Please tell us your views
As a result of online consultations, conversation, observations and other feedback from members, we have produced this DRAFT strategy summary based on the information that you have shared with us. We would welcome your comments on the document before we produce our final strategy which will confirm the charity’s objectives for the next few years.
The final strategy will be launched in January 2024
You said: Your children enjoyed the social activities, a place where your children learn and make friends.
You said: More training is needed to support parents of deaf children and young people.
You said: Accessing our services are sometimes difficult due to a range of factors
You said: We need to develop our partnership working with other services for deaf children and young people
We will also aim to:
5. Improve Diversity
We will continue to be inclusive and ensure the organisation and workforce support the work carried out.
6. Aiming for excellence
We will work toward achieving a fully effective workforce in all areas of the charity.
The Cost of Living Crisis
Phoenix have carried out a cost of living questionnaire to help us identify the financial level of need within our membership. We have responded to the cost of living crisis by continuing to keep the cost of activities low or free of charge despite the charities increased costs. We endeavour to provide opportunities for children of families experiencing financial hardship to participate in the full breadth of Phoenix and at the time of writing this report, have applied for funding to financially support those families most in need.
Some quotes from our members-
Summer programme: “It has been a fun filled summer, my son has attended many days out with Phoenix over the last few weeks and enjoyed every minute. I don’t think there is anything you can do to improve, it has been great! Thank you so much!”
The volunteers and staff make the effort to sign and chat with me. I know most of the other kids parents too so can feel comfortable to chat to them.
Introduction to BSL: “As beginners it's a great introductory course and valuable insight into BSL. The relaxed atmosphere made it fun, comfortable to ask questions it was interactive and lots of fun.”
Individual BSL tuition: Laura is a wonderful teacher and we're so lucky to be having these lessons.
“This has been an invaluable service for us and will help us for the rest of our future as it is giving my deaf child’s brother and sister the confidence to learn sign language, and to be proud to be learning.”
Phoenix Plus members enjoying a day out in London
We have had a successful year of fundraising and are extremely grateful for the support of funders and fundraisers this year who have really made a difference. Overall income received was £198,572 with thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, other smaller funders and fundraisers who have supported our work this year. We were also able to generate income through the hire of rooms at the Phoenix centre and through delivery of our Deaf Awareness/ BSL courses which we have delivered within this period.
The end of year accounts evidences the commitment towards increasing our reserves for the organisation. Despite the challenging financial climate, together the board and staff team continue to work to ensure the financial health of the charity is positively sustainable.
To view our end of year accounts, please download here.
Much appreciation to our funders and fundraisers. This year was the 10th Phoenix Golf Day and after play, the golfers and their families celebrated with live music and a BBQ, whilst they continued with their fund-raising efforts through auction and raffles. Mark, Tony and the golfers raised over £8000 this year, making the total they have raised for the charity almost £60,000, we are so grateful!
Once again we have been chosen by Helping Herts fund raising charity, as one of their supported charities. The charity organise various fund raising events across the county, some of which Phoenix have been involved in, including the sponsored walk around the Hertfordshire Way. This walk involves the 12 children’s charities’ supported by Helping Herts, all walking a leg of the route.
All funds raised are generously match funded by Helping Herts and we are delighted to have raised over £8000 from the walk alone.
Past and present Administrators Gail and Angela ran the London Vitality 10K to raise funds for Phoenix this year. Thank you ladies for your support.
Herts Children’s Society who ceased operating in 2012, have kindly donated their remaining funds to Phoenix, thank you for thinking of us.
Millie, Sadie, Ella and Zana completed a sponsored teddy bears walk for Phoenix and raised over £300, thank you girls. This funding will contribute towards a children’s Halloween party and other activities next year.
Care Vending once again funded a day trip out for our families. This year the families chose Chessington World of Adventures and had a great day. Care vending also fund BSL tuition for families and individuals. Ongoing thanks to Daniel at Care vending for his continuous support.
This year we have also gratefully received funding to deliver a range of projects from the Tweed Foundation, The Co-op, Comic Relief, Hertfordshire County Council locality funds and the Short Breaks Local Offer, Stevenage Borough Council, NDSC, Helping Herts, St Albans Council, Hertfordshire Community Foundation, Old Hertfordian Lodge, WSP, HDCS and Tesco Community Fund.
We are delighted to share the news that The Edward Gostling Foundation will be supporting the charity next year and Children in Need for the next three years.
We would also like to thank those individuals, community groups and businesses who make regular monthly or one off donations to Phoenix or who have contributed their time to help the charity, it is very much appreciated.
|Past and present Phoenix staff Gail and Angela, running for Phoenix
|Sadie, Ella, Zanna and Millie raised over £300 for Phoenix
Phoenix Golf Day 10th Anniversary, special thanks to Mark Churms and Tony Bayford for organising this annual event.
TRUSTEES & MEMBER REPRESENTATIVES 2023
- Valerie Copenhagen (Chairperson / Trustee)
- Lilia Santos (Treasurer/ Trustee)
- Angela Ansell (Trustee & member representative)
- Enada Vejsiu (Trustee)
- Jacquie Hime (Trustee – now stepped down)
- Phil Linnegar (Trustee)
- Laure Fraval (Advisory Member)
80% of our current Trustees have lived experience of Deafness.
From all of the Phoenix Team, we thank you for all of your support throughout 2023.