We currently have 120 members. Financially, we are still in a satisfactory position at the end of our financial year, thanks to the large anonymous donations received by the group several years ago. At 31 July just over £3100 in our two bank accounts. The problem is that the money is going down fast. Last year we used up £966 compared with around £400 the year before. We do get money in from subscriptions – around £550 in the year just ended – but reminding members and chasing them up is a huge effort for the few of us who run the group. We also get some quite large donations. But it’s not enough to staunch the outflow. So the message is we either have to get better at getting money in or find ways to cut our expenditure before we run out of funds entirely. If anybody wants to see the accounts, with all the detail, I’m happy to give them a copy. I have also filed them with the Charity Commission so the totals are on the Charity Commission website for anyone to see.
Our biggest single cost item is the newsletter. Since taking over Outreach eighteen months ago, Jean Higgins, has maintained the high standard of previous newsletters, keeping it topical and lively. We are all grateful to her for all the work she puts into it. So many group members are unable to get to meetings and events, and we know from surveys we’ve done over the years that they regard Outreach as a lifeline. Also we shouldn’t forget the important behind-the-scenes work done by Martin on maintaining the membership database and Colin on actually sending the copies out.
Our new website has a public area and a private area that only members can access. Heidi does a valuable job looking after it and has also set up a group Facebook page. Increasingly, new members find us via the internet.
We have held fewer social events than we would have liked this year. The regular local meetings (essentially down to the one in Chiswick), overseen by Cath Ross, continue to be popular for those able to get to them.
We also run a fund for members who need small sums for financial assistance. Janet Battams, the administrator of THAT Fund, as we call it, reports:
“The Fund Panel has had five applications for funds this year, covering household repairs, treatments and a holiday, and paid out a total of £329 during the financial year. Members who received these grants were very appreciative of the assistance given to them. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the Fund is at present unable to issue grants but hopes to resume asking for applications at the end of the year”.
Every six months, I chair a meeting of several London ME support groups, called ME London, which we all find valuable in terms of exchanging ideas and talking about issues of mutual interest.
Finally, a few of us do a lot of work to keep this group going and we would welcome help with the running of the group from any member who feels able to contribute.