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Rainbow Trust reduces headcount by 17% due to Covid-19

25 Sep 2020 News

The Rainbow Trust has restructured and reduced its headcount by 17%, after a month-long consultation. 

The charity's income fell by 60% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, because it relies on fundraising and events. 

Gemma Melhuish, HR director at the charity, said: “With Covid striking the way that it did, we faced a dramatic drop in income almost immediately, as the majority of our income comes from fundraising.”

The Trust provides bespoke support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.

Melhuish said: “In one weekend alone we lost around £500,000 of income with the cancellation of two special events and the postponement of the [London] marathon. We of course mitigated much of this loss with an emergency appeal, but that was after we realised the impact it would have on our fundraising.”

She said: “We did the restructure across the whole organisation, which in itself was challenging because everyone was either working remotely, or had been furloughed.” 

Lessons learnt 

Melhuish said it was “an emotional and difficult time for the people involved”, partially because it felt harder and less personal having to have incredibly difficult conversations virtually rather than face to face.

“We did exit interviews with everybody that was made redundant, if they chose. The feedback that I have had from the redundancy process was that it was carried out well under the tough circumstances. The majority of staff understood that it was necessary for the survival of the charity and it was solely due to the pandemic, therefore wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly,” she said.

The charity also carried out a survey for all staff about communication, wellbeing, getting staff back into the offices and face-to-face support in a safe way.

Melhuish said: “We had mixed feedback in terms of communication. Those people who were on furlough would have preferred more communication in terms of the day job / business as usual, not organisationally.” 

For example, she said: “People felt it would be great to know how many families we were supporting or what income we were generating – so the details, more regularly. Therefore we implemented a further series of communications to ensure all staff on furlough received regular information.”

The Trust’s chief executive did an all-employee Zoom call to announce the restructure, so everyone would hear at the same time.

In terms of learning, Melhuish said: “I concluded the Zoom call by advising that the documentation would be sent out shortly after. It was difficult to end that call. There is learning from that; in retrospect we should have had our line managers and the HR team teed up to then call groups together,” she said. 

They did follow up within the week but Melhuish suggests it may have been better to do so straightaway.

After the Zoom call, all of the documentation was then sent out, which received “positive feedback” as people did not have to wait for a long period of time to get the details.

Bowel Cancer UK announces 15 staff redundancies

Elsewhere, Bowel Cancer UK has announced 15 staff redundancies, as a direct effect of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A staff consultation was launched in July, when Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, warned that up to 40% of roles were at risk of redundancy. The losses equate to 24% of the workforce, after some staff found new roles during the consultation period. 

The charity will now have 44 staff, down from the previous headcount of 62. 

Edwards said: “I’m devastated and profoundly sorry that we’re losing 15 of our incredible staff to redundancy. They have been deeply committed to helping people affected by bowel cancer and our supporters, and have made a real difference to many people’s lives. We will miss them very much.

“But as a small charity, we must ensure we can continue to give vital support to everyone who needs us. Around 268,000 people are living with bowel cancer right now in the UK, with almost 42,000 diagnosed with the disease each year. 

“We want to do everything in our power to provide the best information, services and support to those people at every stage of their bowel cancer journey, and the only way we can do that is by innovating and changing the ways in which we work. 

“This will include recognising the changing needs of people we are here to serve, as well as better harnessing the power of digital to change lives for the better.  

“We are hugely grateful for the continued support of our wonderful community, and together – and with the right strategy in place – we will rebuild Bowel Cancer UK over the coming months and years.” 

The charity’s financial year runs January to December, and the forecast for 2020 is that its income will be down by at least £1.5m, compared to a budget of £4.2m.  

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