Bryan Woods celebrates Our Small Charities in Small Charity Week

Small Charity Week 2023

This week is Small Charity Week, (19th – 23rd June). It is a time to celebrate and raise awareness of the vital contribution that small charities make to our society.

With the backing of the NCVO (The National Council for Voluntary Organisations), together with Lloyds Bank Foundation, Small Charity Week is organising many events – both face-to-face and online, as well as podcasts, promotion through regional media, and a slot on #CharityHour.

One definition of a small charity is “specialists working in a particular field”.   These charities are usually tailored to a specific need.  This makes them more flexible than large charities.

The last few years have been very challenging for small charities.   The lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic meant that fundraising events had to be cancelled across the country.   This resulted in a catastrophic fall in income for small charities.   And now the cost-of-living crisis means that people are less able to give to charity.   Unfortunately, this double blow has led to the demise of some small charities.

However, others have managed to ride the storm – one such is Hammersley Homes.   Established in 2018 by Louise Hallett, Hammersley Homes supports people in their own homes.   They are adults who are suffering from enduring mental illness – specifically those whose condition cannot be cured.

These vulnerable adults have been badly let down by society for many years now.

Nowadays if a person is sectioned and hospitalised, they will possibly be put on a mental health ward that is hundreds of miles from their home.   Medication re-establishes stability in that person for a while.   But then they are often discharged too quickly because of a lack of beds.   Once home again the person receives inadequate aftercare and support.   Their mental health then nosedives and the whole wretched cycle starts again.

Hammersley Homes was set up to try and break this futile merry-go-round.   It does this through its Home Visiting Programme where trained staff and volunteers offer a hand of friendship, and help with everyday tasks.   This is particularly important as these can often seem overwhelming to people who are struggling with mental health issues.

There is also a Telephone Support Programme.   This provides friendship and practical help.   For example, by researching an issue that may be especially challenging to someone and then coming back with suggestions.

This successful Outreach Programme is now fully established in the New Forest and surrounding areas, and, thanks to a recent generous Lottery Grant, now spreading fast through other parts of Hampshire.   As Louise Hallett says, “We have been getting such encouraging and rewarding feedback both from our clients and their families, and from the Community Mental Health Teams who refer our clients to us.“

As a small charity, Hammersley Homes punches above its weight.   The current ambition of the team there is to grow and develop the Outreach Programme.   They then hope to expand it nationwide.   The long-term goal is to establish a UK-wide network of supported homes for life for vulnerable adults.

I for one wish them the very best of luck.

Further information –

Bryan Woods, June 2023