MASKK was formed in 1999 by local people to meet the need of a lack of childcare for school aged children after school and in holidays, reducing the barrier for parents wanting to work or train.
Since then we have grown and developed to become a community charity providing a range of activities and services based on regular consultation and changing community needs, supporting over 200 children per year across our various projects.
One of our greatest successes been able to create opportunities for children with a variety of disabilities and educational support needs to access activities including specific short breaks sessions that provide a 5 hour interactive session for the children while the parent/carers benefit from time to do other tasks or recharge their batteries.
Our team of 18 local heros work hard to ensure we can support children and their families, adapting to meet their varied needs making our services a unique and positive experience for children. The majority of our team live local and started as volunteers, and continue to volunteer additional time for free, to continue to learn and train to help develop themselves and our services.
Our Manager Craig has been with the organisation since April 2007 and has seen the organisation through many challenges but the Covid-19 Pandemic is on of the most challenging. We have been able to access the furlough scheme for a few of the staff team, but to ensure we can fulfil the needs of the organisation and keep in contact with families we were not able to furlough all our team. Our other costs all remain the same too yet our income has reduced by 50%.
Through our regular contact with families we have found many of them still face difficulties and challenges, and the need for us to be there is greater than ever. We are referring families to food banks, additional support from other organisations and providing them with a listening ear. Thanks to some small donations we have also been able to create and send simple packs to families, with 40 specific ones sent to families with children with disabilities designed to support the parents to positively engage their children. We've received some great positive feedback from families receiving these packs including "brought tears of joy", "Thanks so much, can't believe how excited they were" and "It's so nice to receive something I can do with the kids that I've not had to plan, as after 7 weeks my ideas are running out".
To enable the organisation to go forward, continuing to support children and families, we need help. Our reserves and finances are under significant pressure and presents a real risk to the viability of the organisation long term. We are seeking financial support from Avia and the public and help us sustain our ongoing work supporting isolated families, but also to help us build and prepare for what comes next.
Many of our families have fed back that some children are beginning to struggle with their wellbeing. Some will not leave their home even for the suggested hour a day walks due to fear of illness or 'rule breaking'. MASKK want to be able to plan a number of small group activities, when it's safe to do so, that enable children to start to learn how to be comfortable out of their homes and in the company of others again. Some of our team are completing Health and Wellbeing Training to facilitate these sessions and local partners have offered access to rooms and spaces that might be closer to these small groups. Our aim would then be to plan larger events when possible to bring them all back together as one community.