Charity of the Month for August: The Percy Hedley Foundation

August 10th 2021

The Percy Hedley Foundation provides high quality and innovative services for disabled children, young people and adults across the North East. In over 60 years they have grown from supporting 12 children to now working with over 1,000 disabled people and their families and that number continues to grow every year.  In this insight, Maria Hallett, Fundraiser at The Percy Hedley Foundation tells us more about our chosen charity of the month for August.

Can you please give us a brief overview of what your charity does and who it supports?

The Percy Hedley Foundation supports disabled people so they can learn and live through highly specialist, bespoke care in educational, vocational and therapeutic settings.

We believe that disabled people should be supported to live their lives to the full, with as much choice and control as possible. Through a variety of services, we support disabled adults to strengthen their senses, skills and abilities and enhance their social inclusion.

We meet the needs of disabled people with cerebral palsy, communication impairments, sensory impairments, autism and complex learning difficulties.

We offer a wide range of services to children, young people and adults. Our education services include Hedleys Percy Hedley SchoolHedleys Northern Counties SchoolHedleys College and residential and respite care for all ages.

Our adult services include residential services and an ever increasing variety of adult day services through Hedley’s Horizons.

We also run an Employability Project, Hedleys Employability which works with employers to improve employment opportunities for disabled people.

Where are you based?

We are based in the North East in Jesmond, Forest Hall and Longbenton.

The disabled individuals who we support are mainly from the North East of England, however some of our service users are from other areas of the UK where they do not have the specialist service provision, which exists at the Percy Hedley Foundation, to meet their needs

How much have you been impacted by Covid-19?

The pandemic for The Percy Hedley Foundation, like for many other charities, has had a significant impact.

As many of the disabled children and adults who we support are extremely vulnerable and have very close personal care needs, extreme vigilance has had to be taken to protect them from contracting the virus. In addition to this, as a large number the disabled people who we support (practically those with autism), struggle with change the new ways of living and working which have had to be introduced has been extremely difficult. This has resulted in heightened challenging behaviours and upset which our care team have had to manage.

For the disabled people who we look after in our residential services the restrictions have prevented family and friends from visiting, which been emotionally challenging. However, we have introduced technologies wherever possible so that our disabled residents could stay in touch with their loved ones. When it has been allowed we’ve followed the guidelines so that visitors could come to the garden or outdoor area so they could still stay in touch and involved with each other. It was a real delight and very emotional too when restrictions were lifted and visitors were allowed to come back in to our homes to enjoy the company of their loved ones in their own environment.

From a financial point of view the pandemic has had a dramatic impact. Most of our fundraising has been affected. All Fundraising events in 2020 were cancelled such as our ball, the Great North Run and The Great North Swim. Raising money by bring people together; such as coffee mornings or jumble sales were no longer allowed. Many Corporates have understandably been preoccupied with trying to manage the pandemic and its effects on their business and have had less time to support us. Schools had to focus their time on home learning and again understandably their support of The Percy Hedley Foundation has had to take a back seat.

The pandemic however has made us think more creatively, work differently and use technology in a different way which will hopefully support us in the future.

What are you future hopes and aims for your charity?

Our aim for the future is to ensure that we can continue to provide outstanding and bespoke care to disabled people in the region. This is proving ever more challenging as the complexities of these needs are increasing and continuously changing.

Our hope for the future is that the disabled people who we support will be able to reach their potential and live their lives in the upmost comfort and safety.

Our vision is ‘Inspire, Believe, Achieve.” We aspire to instill this belief in all of the disabled people who we support, their families, staff members and supporters.

How has the support provided by Lycetts helped you? Has it been used to support any specific projects or aims?

Lycetts have supported Percy Hedley Foundation in many ways over the years through attendance at our charity ball, sponsorship of our race day, naming us as the benefitting charity at their golf day and their own race day and staff have taken part in the Great North Run, attended our recent on line event and purchased raffle tickets to name but a few and the funds have been allocated to the service that has needed them the most at any particular time.

For several years, our charity ball raised funds towards our new hydrotherapy pool which was part of a major development at our site in Killingworth which is state of the art and provides much needed therapy for the children at Percy Hedley School.  For children that have cerebral palsy and are in a wheelchair most of the time, the water provides a great sense of freedom and allows them to stretch their limbs and muscles whilst the water takes their weight.  Through state of the art technology, the walls of the pool can display different themes and sequences so that the hydrotherapy can be integrated into the children’s learning.  Lycetts played a significant part in helping to raise the funds for the pool.

Are there any opportunities for people to get directly involved with the charity?

We welcome and greatly appreciate direct support and involvement from everyone.

The main way for employees to support us is through actively fundraising on our behalf. This might be through taking part in an event and getting sponsored; such as The Great North Run, The Great North Swim, or through selling raffle tickets, making a donation or encouraging others to support our work.

The link details all of our Fundraising activities and gives you an overview of the different ways you can support our work: https://percyhedley.enthuse.com/profile

Due to the nature of our services and the vulnerability of our service users getting involved in a hands on way within the Foundation is limited. However, should anyone be interested we are often looking for volunteers to help at our events through the year.

Describe the most memorable / funniest moment / most unusual fund raising activity during a sponsor event?

Percy Hedley Foundation were the benefiting charity from Lycetts Golf Day in June 2018 and they worked closely with the charity to try to maximise the funds raised at the event.  We sold ‘Mulligans’ in the form of balloons.  Each participant was allowed to buy two Mulligans for a cost of £10 each which they could use if they needed extra shots.   It was really amusing watching the golf buggies return and the banter between the golfers who had and hadn’t used them!

When Percy Hedley was the benefiting charity for Lycetts Race Day at Newcastle Racecourse, we held a live auction with some great prizes.  It was seriously amusing when an extremely high ranking employee took the microphone from the auctioneer and told the audience in no uncertain terms to quieten down and pay attention or else !  We even asked if we could hire him out for our events!!!  Needless to say the audience paid full attention and the auction was extremely lucrative for the charity!

The team at Lycetts never cease to be supportive and are really great to be involved with.

How can people find out more about your work?

We are currently in the process of redeveloping our website. However our current website does hold up to date information should you like to find out more about our work.

Head to: www.percyhedley.org.uk

Follow us on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/percyhedley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/percy.hedley/

Also you can also visit our Fundraising platform https://percyhedley.enthuse.com/profile should you like to learn more about ways in which you can support our work.  Or feel free to call our Fundraising Team anytime as we’d love to talk you through the services that we provide and the way we improve disabled people’s lives.

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