I never thought I would be writing my first blog as CEO for Simon on the Streets amid a crisis on a global scale. But here we are. The Coronavirus pandemic has affected each and every one of us, changing our lives, most likely, for some time to come.
Although there's no denying that it's a strange time to begin my new journey, it's also an extraordinary time. A time filled with hope and excitement. For me, it's a time brimming with opportunity.
What a beginning
My first few weeks haven't been as I’d planned when I was appointed as CEO. As you can imagine, my movements have been somewhat restricted. However, thanks to the wonders of video conferencing technology (and some socially distant one to ones with our key working staff), I’ve been able to meet with my team and various other stakeholders over the last few weeks.
One thing's for certain though; the support for Simon on the Streets, and the work they’ve already achieved, is incredible.
I’ve been aware of Simon on the Streets for many years, having worked with them previously during my time with various drugs and alcohol services. The passion and enthusiasm of previous CEO’s has been nothing short of inspirational. Now I'm in that very same position I understand why. Rest assured that I'm committed to approaching the role with the same vigour and dedication.
We are ‘Team Simon’. We're not just a collective of staff doing a job day to day. Team Simon is a culture, a movement. It's a unique brand that's dedicated to working with those who are the most vulnerable in our society. And we do this by building trust and creating hope for those who have spent far too long feeling hopeless. In my first few weeks I've seen first- hand the incredible work taking place.
Making a difference
There are so many examples of the difference Team Simon is making. I've seen case study upon case study of those being helped during the pandemic. From clients with no recourse to public funds living on self -made encampments, to those falling on hard times, losing their accommodation and facing the resulting homelessness.
There are so many horrific stories of clients suffering. We're not just dealing with life on the streets, but with everything else in between and as a result. Issues such as trafficking, abuse and neglect. Team Simon is giving so many a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I've been blown away by the care, support and skill of the team.
A time of change
Our sector is going through a period of immense change. The achievements of the team during this pandemic is nothing short of incredible. We cannot, and MUST NOT, go back to where we were. We have a real opportunity for change, real sustained change. We must grab it with both hands.
Although independent, Simon on the Streets works closely with local authorities across Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees. We're very much ‘part of the conversation’ that’s taking place about the next steps for those clients accommodated during the pandemic. This is ensuring that our expert knowledge and experience is brought to the fore.
Our invaluable commodity is time. Time to continue supporting those who need us for as long as it takes. Time to link clients into the services they need. Time to ensure they engage and get the best out of those services offered. Time to work with clients who cannot access services due to having no recourse to public funds, an incredibly important area of work that we have honed and developed.
Importantly, we have the time to build trust with those people for whom trust isn’t easy. This is what sets us apart from other services. It means we can truly support areas where clients can and will sadly fall through the gaps.
Of course, being an Independent Charity in such uncertain times is tough. We rely on the amazing kindness of donations and sponsors who, like us, all have their own uncertainties to deal with. We've had to cancel major events, reorganise our fundraising strategy and think more creatively about how we can keep ourselves financially sustainable. The recent Little Sleep In fundraiser is a wonderful example of this.
We are however, still working on securing Charity of the Year status for Corporate Organisations in addition to our 5 for 5 Corporate Partnership Scheme. Our supporters have been incredible, taking part in our recent events and giving what they can even at a time when everyone has been impacted financially in some way.
These are uncertain times. However, I'm certain that the work of Simon On the Streets has never been more needed than it is right now. I'm certain that we have a unique offering and an incredible team of people who can absolutely make sustained change a reality. I'm certain that we have so much to offer in terms of our expertise and knowledge.
I'm certain that I am Team Simon.
To find out more about the work we’re doing and how you can support us then please get in touch with us now.
Natalie Moran - CEO Simon on the Streets