AGM: Year 8 Report
‘Give a Dog a Bone… and an animal a home’ gained charitable status on 20 November 2013.
The aim of the charity is to tackle loneliness for older adults via animal companionship.
We operate two main projects in order to achieve this aim:
The first is our original, long standing, project where we support the over 60s to afford a rescue pet companion – it’s a WIN/WIN – the person gets a friend, and the animal gets a home!
The second project was launched in January 2018, called ‘Companionship in the Community’ – a community-based project, providing a safe space for older adults to make new friends, learn new skills and mix with dogs!
Project number 1 allows older adults, who would love an animal companion – but are worried about the costs involved – financial assistance to adopt a pet.
Project number 2 recognises that many older adults love animals but, for whatever reason, do not (or cannot) have their own pet.
Our Community Space project offers the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills and mix with our special team of Companionship Dogs – without the pressure of taking a dog home!
Over the years we have helped thousands of older adults to have a more engaged existence with both peers and animals alike and have won several awards for our unique charitable offering.
We are very proud of our services and the fact our offering continues to diversify to support those who need us most.
The following statement is based on our 8th financial year to date, commencing 01 December 2020 and ending 30 November 2021.
Year 8’s Annual General Meeting Statement
We started the new financial year off on a high with some successful fundraisers over December and January, including annual calendars, Christmas cards and our January art auction.
Fundraising has always been the life blood of our charity and Year 8 was no exception, with the total income generated from organic fundraising reaching over £100,000 for the first time ever.
This is testament to the many different activities we have through-out the calendar year, including those already mentioned – as well as fundraisers such as the Golden Ticket and the 500 Club.
Our 8th financial year saw our supporters taking part in Kiltwalk activities and create fun and inventive ways of raising funds for the charity – such as a 7-year-old cutting her ponytail off and one woman and her dog running the West Highland Way!
Together, all of our efforts combined made it a record-breaking year for fundraising at Give a Dog a Bone.
But, whilst our Fundraising year was kicking off to a great start, new lockdown measures commencing the beginning of January 2021 meant that, once again, we were forced to close the doors to all three of our Community Spaces.
Our Community Spaces exist to support older adults in our communities – to provide a listening ear, some friendly companionship, and the opportunity to spend time with our team of friendly dogs.
With the doors closed, we risked further isolating those who already felt lonely, and this presented a real challenge to our charity.
How do we tackle loneliness when older adults are stuck at home?
Little did we know, at that time, that it would be several months before we could open back up – eventually opening all 3 spaces again on 26 April 2021.
During that 4-month closure, once again, we did not furlough staff but, instead, worked as a team to further improve our processes as a charity, as well as extend our ‘at-home’ support for older adults.
This support included Zoom classes for the over 60s, animal care packages for the animals on our monthly support scheme, birthday cards, Sunshine packs and Sunshine telephone calls – each activity was especially designed in order to make older adults feel less alone during this period of enforced isolation.
Upon reopening at the end of April 2021, we scaled back our lock-down activity, as staff relocated back to Community Spaces.
However, we are proud to say that have continued with our Zoom programme of activities for older adults who cannot make it into our Community Spaces due to lack of mobility or due to distance.
Over Year 8, 89 over 60s individuals benefitted from our Zoom classes – many of them making our Zoom classes a regular feature in their weekly calendar.
Here is a quote from a lady on our financial monthly support scheme, who commented on our support during this lockdown period…
“I wanted to say that you’ve excelled during this Covid crisis.
The online Reiki is fantastic and, along with friendly phone-calls, is fighting the isolation that so many of us are experiencing.
The little thoughtful touches, such as the handwritten cards make Give a Dog a Bone stand out from the crowd. Thank-you from myself and Buzz for all your support.”
The lockdown period highlighted a need for more back-office/support staff to continue to improve and support the growth of the charity.
Opening three Community Spaces in the period of two years between 2018 and 2020 was ambitious and ultimately successful, however, the majority of our staff had been hired to work on the front-line in Community Spaces and there was very limited resource behind the scenes to ensure the charity was being adequately supported, as it expanded.
As a result, we applied to the Adapt & Thrive Fund for financial support towards some key supporting roles.
We were successful, in-part, with our bid and Year 8 saw us introduce three new positions to the charity:
- Operations Manager (permanent – non funded)
- Fund-raiser (temporary – funded for one year)
- Digital Lead (temporary – funded for one year).
In summary, Year 8 saw notable growth in our staff numbers, removing some of the risk associated with the lack of resource underpinning our busy operations.
One of the most important back-office tasks undertaken in Year 8 was a GDPR review – this was a very detailed process of stripping back what data and permissions we held for those on our database and ensuring we were in compliance with GDPR regulations.
With many of our older adult beneficiaries not having access to an email address, the majority of this exercise was conducted via post and manual inputting of responses.
It was a complicated but necessary process and the time spent in this area leaves us in a much healthier position as a charity – not only ensuring past data is in compliance but ensuring future data is processed in accordance with the GDPR regulations.
One of the loveliest outputs from this pain-staking exercise was the conceptualisation of the Give a Dog a Bone ‘Charity Friend’ scheme.
This is where an over 60s person can sign up as a Charity Friend and gain access to our free services such as an annual birthday card, access to our on-line Zoom activities, join our in-space group sessions or individual therapies and, of course, access financial support towards to rescue pet.
We were unsure what the overall effects of the pandemic, and resultant closures, would have in our Community Spaces.
Our Alloa Community Space was opened just 12 days when we had to close the doors in March 2020. We still had much work to do in letting the community know about our unique charitable offering.
At the end of Year 8, we are pleased to report average number of 200 people, each week, across all 3 of our Community Spaces – almost back at pre-pandemic numbers.
Our Community Spaces continue to be important destination spots for older adults in the community. Our non-judgemental, caring, approach inspires an environment of safety and trust.
Year 8 saw growth of the charity with our very first office premises in the heart of Glasgow – we were gifted an extremely charitable rate by one of our current landlords and seized the opportunity to use the office as a collaboration space, as well as an opportunity to promote our branding in the city centre.
Furthermore, towards the end of Year 8, we also took the keys to an additional floor in the Alloa Community Space – allowing us to have a dedicated ‘activity and movement’ area for older adults to take part in group activities. At end of Year 8, refurbishment is currently underway by our team of staff and volunteers.
In summary, the theme of Year 8 was one of growth – growth in our team, growth in our offering, and growth in our numbers.
Year 8 was our most successful year to date; however, it should be noted that due to all 3 Community Spaces being closed for several months, we were awarded Government grants which are not reflective of normal income and far from the sustainable, reliable, income that we wish to generate.
That said, these grants did provide us with some financial safety in some very uncertain times, for which we are grateful.
We will leave you with the words of one of our older adult beneficiaries…
“I’m helped so much by your charity I could wax lyrical all day about you all! I’m 71, live alone and my health isn’t so good – and now I feel so cared for. Thank you Give a Dog a Bone”