Founded in 2006, Playskill provides support to pre-school age children with physical disabilities and their families in Hertfordshire. With free expert support from a Paediatric Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, and Speech and Language Therapist, Playskill offers group play sessions for children aged 1-5 which use play as a tool for development.
After being nominated by Martin Francis Playskill was initially supported through Cranfield Trust On-Call and asked for advice and guidance on the preparation of their annual financial reporting. Playskill wanted to be able to present financial information to funders and were unsure of exactly what information should be included and how to present it. They were also looking for some guidance around the calculation of direct and indirect costs and the calculation and preservation of reserves.
After initial conversations with Cranfield Trust’s Projects Team and the Regional Manager for their region, Playskill was matched with a volunteer consultant, best suited to their needs, Frank Learner. Frank has 15 years of experience within different charities including as a trustee and was able to use his experience to support Playskill. By speaking with Playskill’s finance manager, Frank was able to gain an understanding of the current picture of their financial reporting and provide advice on areas that needed improvement and the steps to take to do so.
Playskill was provided with templates and examples to guide them on what information needed to be included and how certain information should be presented. Frank also pointed Playskill towards some resources on the Cranfield Trust website on how annual accounts can help with fundraising.
By working with Cranfield Trust on this project, Playskill ensured that their accounts and financial reports are clear and important information is easily accessible by the board of trustees and, equally importantly during these challenging times, funders. This not only means the charity is remaining compliant but also, by tidying up their financial reporting, this can also benefit the charity’s fundraising efforts which will ultimately benefit the children and families they support in the long run.
“Frank's advice has been hugely helpful for us. His expertise and experience were just what we were looking for, and the team now has a much better understanding.”
The support Cranfield Trust was able to provide didn’t stop there. Playskill was also looking for advice on data management and storage. For legal reasons, the charity is required to hold children’s signed records for long periods of time with these records historically being on paper, taking up a large amount of space to store. Since the introduction of remote working, many records have transitioned to being held digitally however, the charity needed guidance on the best way to store these, whilst ensuring they uphold the required legal standards.
The Regional Manager researched which volunteer would be able to support the charity for this project and a great fit was volunteer consultant Marc Esmiley who has many years of experience in IT strategy, technical integration, and digital transformation. Marc was able to work with Playskill to fully understand their requirements and advise what sort of system would work for them and through their discussions, it was decided that a cloud-based system would be the most useful. Considering costs and timescales for the charity, Marc was then able to further advise and work with Playskill to formulate a list of clear next steps that the charity would need to take in order to move to its new system. Playskill were able to leave the project with clearly defined actions, a list of who would be responsible for each, and a clear plan for their transition to a new cloud-based system.
The support from Cranfield Trust has allowed Playskill to reach a decision on the type of data management system they would like to move to and a clear plan of how to achieve that transition. This will not only save on storage space of records that are currently on paper but will ensure that all future records are stored securely and easily accessible in the future, meeting the required legal standards.