Autumn Newsletter - Page 7

Third sector thinking
Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of AUK talks about charitable income
For the last 47 years Anxiety UK has been providing
information and a vital range of much-needed support
services for those affected by anxiety, stress and
anxiety based depression. As a national conditionspecific charity that has witnessed and survived many
changes in healthcare and in society in general, Anxiety
UK has had to become self-sufficient and to diversify
funding and income models, in order to stand the test of
time. Providing a national support service is a real
challenge for support based charities where localism is
favoured and there is complete disparity in the model
for commissioned services. Just one example of this
challenge involves our national helpline support service
which in recent years has expanded to include live
chat/IM, text and email support.
The helpline alone takes over 20,000 calls a year from
individuals that are living with some form of anxiety
disorder and for whom the helpline represents an
accessible way of obtaining information, advice and
timely support. Callers dial in from all over the country,
and as one would expect, often from a mobile phone. It
is impossible therefore to get accurate data as to what
proportion, for example of callers are calling from
London or from Scotland and in turn to capture and
gain feedback on the ‘value’ of the intervention in order
to engage commissioners to support services.
Compare the increasing use of such responsive,
accessible services with the decreasing availability of
charitable trust funding and it is clear to see how
charities need to start to think differently about their
own sustainability.
Faced with this dilemma (which incidentally presents at
a time when the need for our service is at an all-time
high given the rising rates of anxiety and stress in
society), the Charity sought to set about diversifying its
income streams in an attempt to move away from
seeing statutory sector and traditional funding sources
as the answer to its funding woes. One of the first
strategies deployed was to develop successful
partnerships with other occupational charities (the
benevolent funds of days gone by).
Partnership working has very much been key to Anxiety
UK’s success over the past 5 years and we have
developed successful partnerships with some leading,
national benevolent funds.
Through such partnerships, we are able to offer
mental health and wellbeing support services for
partner beneficiaries. In some cases, this has meant
providing helpline, email and therapy service support.
This partnership based model has become so
successful such that the Charity is now developing
similar relationships with corporate sector
organisations and in doing so, offering an employee
assistance service (EAP) - like service, albeit in a
tailored, bespoke and personalised way.
Working closely with other often non-aligned
organisations also presents an opportunity to see how
others do things; the charity way isn’t necessarily
always the best way. In a climate where every penny
really does count, it is necessary to have an open
mind and be open to feedback which might not always
be positive. For example, our former long-winded
recruitment activities stood out as being in need of
change and it was only through our relationships with
business that we saw things in a different light.
Charities have to be open to modernisation and they
cannot afford to lose pace on innovation in service
design and delivery; particularly how to plug the gap
between what people need and what is available
through the NHS.
We have learned to never assume that we know what
people want, for example, we have to be mindful that
our services are available on many different platforms
such as Twitter and Facebook. We are constantly
vigilant to new opportunities and our ability to promptly
translate the latest research into service provision and
advice has increased dramatically over the years.
As anxiety, stress and depression rates continue to
rise, Anxiety UK’s services are needed more now than
ever. Condition-specific national charities such as
Anxiety UK play a vital role in the healthcare sphere
and have such huge amounts of knowledge and
experience of their particular health condition that it is
critically important that they are not overlooked in the
new world where being local is often seen as ‘better’
and more in touch with community need; It is
important to acknowledge that communities exist in
many different ways and also that people employ
various routes to access support services. The
challenge is to help commissioners think differently,
and more dynamically about this need and the value
that these charities add at the same time addressing
funding challenges.

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