Covid-19 charity update
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has presented us with huge challenges over recent months.
It’s been a little while since we updated you – read on for more about our latest plans from Sandra Currie, our chief executive.
Building for the future
The disruption we all face from the pandemic is huge - and this continues as we all face new restrictions once again.
Covid-19 is continuing to have a significant impact on the kidney health of thousands of people across the UK. Even more people, as a result of having the virus itself, will now be affected by kidney disease. They will depend on research for answers, and to give them hope.
As you may have read before, the pandemic has also affected our ability to raise the funds we need to keep making progress. Our earlier prediction of a 50% drop in our charity’s income in the year ahead is sadly proving to be accurate, and the financial outlook remains uncertain.
Bur despite this, we are doing everything we can to turn the challenges that have come our way into positive opportunities for the charity.
Now, we are even more ambitious to drive real change and create better lives for patients. We can do that by protecting research and building a sustainable future.
Some of the changes were in our plans already, but the pandemic has made us accelerate our plans so they happen sooner. Some unexpected opportunities have also arisen during this time.
We continue to build on our original plans and do things a bit differently when we need to.
Ensuring we can fund vital research
One of the areas where we have been forced to take a fresh approach relates to the way we fund research.
Back in April we paused funding new research projects (with only one or two exceptions) when we realised our projected income was going to be much lower than we had originally planned.
We were able to honour the existing research grants we had committed to fund. We knew the researchers depended on this funding and we couldn’t put any of their vital research at risk. It was incredibly difficult for us to not fund new research, but we were determined to do everything we could to secure the important work already happening.
Thankfully, things are beginning to look more positive from a research perspective.
The teams are beginning to return to the lab, and to their clinical research. We were delighted to open our first new research grant funding round – the Stoneygate partnership grants – last October.
It’s brilliant that these new shoots are beginning to grow, and we can start to feel like we are returning to a sense of normality.
To honour our existing commitments and build a sustainable fund for future research we are now exploring new, innovative ways to raise the income we need. There are some really exciting opportunities in the pipeline, but there is still a long way to go.
The pandemic has made us even more determined, and we will continue to work hard to get more research funding rounds back on track as soon as we can.
Not without challenges
Sadly, the decline in our income and our determination to protect our research funding and get it back on track has meant we have had to make some changes to the way we operate as a charity. This means we have had to review our running costs, including our staffing costs.
We have naturally reduced some of our costs in recent months, by not filling vacant posts since the country first went into lockdown, and some staff have been redeployed into different roles.
Working with staff we were able to identify ways they could support us, such as by using the furlough scheme or by agreeing to reduced working hours on a temporary basis. A few staff have since chosen to reduce their hours on a longer-term basis, and two opted for voluntary redundancy.
But despite these steps, our costs have not reduced to the level we need.
As a result, we have had to review all roles within the charity, and we have had to make a small number of roles redundant. During the consultation process, staff affected were given the opportunity and time to consider the proposals and the charity to explore alternative options that were put forward.
Many of the decisions have been so hard to make. The team have shown such enormous commitment over the last few months, and many have helped throughout the changes in so many ways. We have had to say goodbye to some colleagues we just didn’t want to lose.
Although they were difficult decisions, every change that we have made and continue to make is aimed at delivering real change for patients.
We will emerge stronger
Our priority is clear. We must ensure we continue to make progress that will benefit patients and move research forward. We must use the funds we raise to maximum effect, by honouring our existing commitments to current research, and to fund further new research projects.
We will only achieve this by ensuring our charity is in a solid place financially and ready to adapt as needed. How we make a difference to patients is changing, not why.
Thank you to our staff and those who may be affected at this difficult time.
Thanks to years of dedication and commitment from our colleagues and supporters, we will adjust to and rise up from these challenging circumstances – and continue to change lives with our research.
Sandra Currie, chief executive
Our life-saving research is only possible with your support.