We are proud to feature The Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT) this month. At PLG we adapt lots of properties for children with acquired brain injury so it was great to touch base with those running this brilliant charity.
CBIT was formed in 1991 by a group of health professionals to provide information for the families of children who had an acquired brain injury. Today CBIT is the leading voluntary sector organisation providing emotional and practical support, information and learning opportunities for families and professionals affected by childhood acquired brain injury (ABI) across the UK.
We talked to Danielle Gibson, Head of Fundraising and Marketing at CBIT to see how they have managed during the pandemic and what positives there are to come out of it.
As a national organisation working on a regional structure we were used to having some virtual meetings already, so turning all meetings virtual was not such a problem for us. But over the course of the last 2 years we have missed face to face meetings and getting together, some people joined during the pandemic and I feel we have hardly met other than over a screen!
Much of CBIT’s work involves health professionals or coordinators reaching out to families who have recently been affected by ABI, whether that is by home, school or hospital visits. As we know, the lockdown happened without much warning and so CBIT worked to move as much as they could online. All face to face meetings had to stop so this meant that all the home, hospital and school visits which the ABI coordinators would normally undertake in person, could not go ahead. Emergency support was provided to families and hospital teams online or over the phone. But the level of support, the impact it had and the access given to the coordinators to help families who were just coming to terms with their child having an ABI was diminished considerably.
Danielle continues: The impact was two-fold. We were unable to get out to give support, while the children with ABI were having their normal routine of schooling disrupted. Many children with ABI really suffer without routine so this impacted on their families ability to cope. And those families were feeling really isolated. We were able to offer Zoom calls to support but we have prioritised getting face to face support back in place for these families as soon as we could. We followed with phasing in school and hospital visits and our family days are also now being phased back in, which is great.”
But the lull in face to face activity did mean that there was lots of work going on to improve the virtual accessibility to CBIT’s services. This included rolling out a counselling service for affected children and their families and launching an App which offered advice and support, and also signposting for affected families. And never were these services needed more. Statistics showed that children post lockdown had forgotten a lot about road safety and this, together with the increase in traffic, led to a rise in road traffic accidents leaving many more children with injuries which included ABI.
We used the time as effectively as we could, administratively reorganising ourselves and becoming leaner and fitter as well. We developed a much better digital strategy making us more accessible and we increased our visibility through social media and an improved website. We are already working on version 2 of our App which is here to stay! We also focused on our strategic goals, so that when we emerged from lockdowns, we have come back better than ever.
As for fund raising Danielle said that it was much more challenging trying to get corporate support without face to face meetings.
The Zoom quizzes that we all got used to worked well enough in the beginning to raise some money, but I felt that corporate supporters needed face to face meetings and these were just not possible. So we decided, as soon as it was safe to do so, we would celebrate our belated 30th birthday with all our supporters and families in a big awards ceremony which took place in March. And it felt great to be back, recognising those who had worked so hard and achieved so much, in person!
And CBIT have an exciting array of events ahead this year with a Commonwealth Games style ‘School Games’ at Harborne Cricket Club in Birmingham on July 1^st and golf days in Manchester on 11th May and Olton on 8th September. And there are some walks over the Malverns and in the Peak District in September. Have a look at the CBIT website for all details Fundraising Events Archives – Child Brain Injury Trust (https://childbraininjurytrust.org.uk/events/categories/fundraising-events/)
It is inspiring to hear how a charity such as CBIT has turned the pandemic into a positive and have come back better than ever and more accessible than ever!
Read more about ‘CBIT’ by clicking here (https://childbraininjurytrust.org.uk/)