Member Update 1st May 2020

Friday, 1 May 2020

Dear Member,


Sarah and I hope that you are all well and safe.


During COVID-19 things, whilst different, have not slowed and we appreciate all the extra effort being made by group leaders as they adjust to online and remote programme. Many of us are learning new skills and we hope that you are getting something positive from  these difficult times. Our young members tell us that our online and remote programme is helping them to feel connected and to reduce social isolation.


At this challenging time information is the key to making good decisions and we are trying not to burden you with too many emails, surveys and questionnaires. As such members of General Council and the staff team will be aiming to ring each District Co-ordinator this week to ensure we have an accurate idea of what is happening and the needs of our groups. In these calls we wish to:


  • Check that you are OK

  • Update you on everything from Common Ground to our weekly challenges

  • Find out what programme you are offering and gather suggestions for developing our national offer

  • Gather information about your District’s support and financial needs


For those of you who are not District Contacts this members update is designed to give you an overview of how COVID-19 has impacted Woodcraft Folk locally, regionally and nationally. It also includes a call to action. As members of Woodcraft Folk you will be aware that often our ambitions are big and our greatest resources are our volunteers. We need your help!


How can you help?


We understand that everyone is in a different position and that many of you will have been adversely affected by COVID-19. We also recognise that there will be some members who have some spare time on their hands and any help you can give with the asks below will be much appreciated:


1). Please share our remote and virtual programme via social media #DreamBigAtHome, it would be great to be able to reach those families who previously attended group nights whilst attracting new members.


2). If you have programme ideas and activity suggestions for both remote/self-led and virtual sessions please contact challenges@woodcraft.org.uk 


3). Could your employer sponsor activity packs? We are seeking funding to distribute physical activities and craft resources to those families who are experiencing digital disadvantage and/or living in poverty. We have made contact with local food banks as a distribution source, but simply do not have the funding to make this ambition a reality. Perhaps your employer  would like to demonstrate its corporate social responsibility by supporting our effort. 


4). Woodcraft Folk would like to offer summer holiday clubs and playschemes when it is safe to do so, focusing on those communities and children who have been disadvantaged by this current period of home learning. We hope to attract some funding and are currently in discussions with our colleagues at the Coop Academies Trust to deliver some events when we are able. These events will be designed to address food poverty and to build the resilience and confidence of children and young people. If you are interested in giving up your time, as a volunteer or in a paid capacity, to support this work please contact debs@woodcraft.org.uk 


5). Volunteering opportunities - there are a number of things we would welcome your support with e.g. developing our new #DreamBigAtHome website, sending out thank you messages to donors, approaching Trusts & Foundations, creating session plans, helping with social media. Please contact lauren@woodcraft.org.uk 


6). Make a donation to support Woodcraft Folk’s COVID19 efforts. Please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/virtualwoodcraftfolk


Online programme delivering


Woodcraft Folk has been quick to offer online alternatives to group nights and we hosted more than 300 computers during our first virtual meeting on March 19th. Since then we have:


  • Delivered online programming every Tuesday & Thursday

  • Launched weekly challenges to be done from home

  • Worked with Groop to offer Groop LIVE a free online conferencing tool secure to Groop members only - no zoom bombing!


To help improve access to our remote and virtual programme we are launching #DreamBigAtHome on May 7th, which includes a new website hosting activities which can be self-led in the home, watch-again films and session plans for online group nights.


Returning to face-to-face group nights


On March 16th 2020 all groups were advised to cease face to face meetings until June 1st 2020. At this stage we are not yet in a position to make a decision about when it will be safe to return to regular group nights activities. It feels very unlikely that groups will return until schools reopen to all pupils and even then we may have to review how and where groups meet, including potentially:


  • Meeting outdoors

  • Providing after school rather than evening activities 

  • Preventing social mixing across school/geographical communities

  • Reducing physical contact activities


The safeguarding team will send further guidance to District and Group Contacts following the government’s review of lockdown arrangements in May. We would also like to welcome you to an online open discussion looking at how Woodcraft Folk can operate under social distancing conditions on Friday 15th May at 5pm, please visit www.woodcraft.org.uk/calendar for joining instructions.


Common Ground


After detailed discussion with the Common Ground board, General Council has decided that Common Ground should be postponed until 2022. This will help ensure that all groups and Districts are secure in their ability to fully engage in the camp and will reduce the risk of further postponements. Lots more information can be found at https://www.commonground.camp/updates/statement-common-ground-moved-to-2022/


Financial impact


The full financial impact of Covid-19 on Woodcraft Folk is not yet known as it depends to a great extent  on when groups start to meet again and our centres can reopen. At this time we estimate  that our 300 groups will experience a reduction in their collective income of £800,000 (although the effects will vary greatly from DIstrict to District), whilst Folk Office will be £40,000 short of it’s income targets and our centres will experience a reduction in their income of at least £175,000. Work has begun to reduce the financial impact at Folk Office and in centres by furloughing staff where possible and reducing running costs. We have also started to access relevant government support schemes. 


To support our centres we would encourage any of you who feel able to make a booking for later this year or 2021. Please note that our centres may be open for private bookings before they are in a position to host group bookings. Take a look at https://woodcraft.org.uk/centres


Woodcraft Folk staff and furlough


We are grateful for your patience as we prioritise tasks during this challenging time. As referred to above, we have furloughed the majority of our staff, some of whom will be returning to work for short periods to complete essential tasks and then returning to furlough.


To manage workloads we will not be making weekly financial payments or processing Folk Supply orders. If you need to contact Folk Office please email Leanne at info@woodcraft.org.uk 


If you need to report a child protection concern or safeguarding issue please email safeguarding@woodcraft.org.uk 


Stay safe and blue skies