October 30, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
At Barretstown, we believe that every child with serious illness should enjoy their childhood. Our mission is to rebuild the lives of children affected by serious illness and their families. We do this through our life changing Therapeutic Recreation Programmes in a safe, fun and supportive environment. All families come to Barretstown free of charge. Barretstown was founded in 1994 by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman. Paul believed that luck had played an important part in his life and that sick children were not so lucky. He founded his first camp in 1988 and very quickly it became internationally recognised for the positive effect it had on children fighting illness. It was hugely successful, so Paul decided to set up one in Europe and he chose Ireland in 1994. Almost twenty-five years on, the camp has developed and expanded. Today, it serves children affected by serious illnesses – primarily cancer and serious blood diseases - and their families, supported behind the scenes by 24-hour on site medical and nursing care. Since 1994 Barretstown has served over 45,000 campers. Barretstown is recognised as a centre of excellence in childhood cancer care and other serious illnesses. We remain the leading provider of Therapeutic Recreation in Europe. Our Therapeutic Recreation Programme brings campers through a fun, activity-based process of challenge, success, reflection and discovery. Our camps and programmes have a profound effect and lasting impact on our campers and their families. After participating, children go home with increased confidence, self-esteem and more importantly the reassurance that happiness is not just for healthy children. Barretstown helps to restore joy and laughter in a time often laden with fear, stress and uncertainty. By supporting the child through diagnosis, treatment, remission and recovery Barretstown helps rebuild confidence, self-esteem and independence.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
There is significant demand for our services and our challenge is to serve as many children and families affected by serious illness as possible. To do so we have expanded the illness groups served beyond childhood cancer to include other illnesses. We extended our camp calendar to virtually year-round programming and we have made our site and programmes available to other charities. We have established our Outreach Programmes to bring the spirit of Barretstown into hospitals and schools. We provide our services at no cost to our families and rely almost entirely on donations and fundraising efforts of individuals, community groups and corporate supporters. It’s a constant challenge and we must be innovative and diversified in our approach. Our focus has been on developing a more sustainable funding mix and today 50% of our income comes from small donations and direct debits - our direct debit income has increased from €17,000 per month in 2013 to over €160,000 in 2018 and this figure is growing. Recruiting the 1,800 volunteers required to run our programmes each year is always a challenge and we address that by being more active than ever on social and digital media and enabling online volunteer applications which has really helped to increase volunteer numbers. Trust is the key. Barretstown operates to the highest standards of corporate governance and transparency. We adhere to the Governance Code, a voluntary code for the not for profit sector. Barretstown has adopted the SORP Charity Accounting Standard which is a UK Standard for charities and not yet mandatory in Ireland. In 2018, Barretstown received All-Star accreditation as Thought Leader in Charity Governance from Business All-Stars. Our 2017 Annual report has been short listed in the Annual Published Accounts Awards.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
Since 1994 Barretstown has served over 45,000 children affected by serious illness and their families through its residential and outreach programmes and has seen an increase of 80% in the number of campers we serve in the last 5 years. In 2017 we served 7,103 children through our Residential and Outreach Programmes. To achieve this growth, we have been strategic and innovative in our approach. We created a sustainable funding mix. We expanded the illness groups we serve to include Haematology, Nephrology, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Neurology and Endocrinology. We have partnered with other charities whose missions support children. Last year, we partnered with eight charities including Irish Heart Foundation and Jack and Jill Foundation. We established our Hospital Outreach Programme to bring the optimistic playful spirit of Barretstown to children and families to hospitals and clinics around Ireland. Our Camp in Schools Programme, a post camp booster which helps to reduce feelings of isolation, helps children to share the fun of camp with class mates. We extended our calendar and hosted more camps to allow more children and their families to experience our life changing programmes. We have continually improved and invested in our facilities including the construction of a multi-purpose indoor activity hall and administrative centre and a new dining hall, which is 50% larger, to cater for the ever-increasing numbers attending camp and help with mobility issues. We have grown our volunteer numbers from 800 to 1,800 annually and will develop a new accommodation block in 2019 to facilitate our volunteers. “The happy memories Aidan made in camp haven’t left him. It’s like cancer had snuck in and turned off the light. Barretstown turned the light back on – not just for Aidan, but for all of us” – Parent.
What makes this Organisation unique?
What Barretstown offers is truly unique in Ireland. It’s not simply a camp to help children have fun, it’s much, much, more than that. It’s proven by research conducted by Yale Child Study Center, which found children who attend the SeriousFun Camps, of which Barretstown is one, showed improved confidence, higher self-esteem, greater sense of independence and increased interest in social activities. It also showed that children’s stress related to their illness decreased as a result of the camp experience. Another differentiator is the range of camps offered. We offer Family Camps, Brothers and Sisters Camps, Camper and Friend Day and Summer Camps for different age groups including 7-14yrs and a Teen Camp for 13-17yrs. Our Bereavement Programme takes place over three weekends in Spring and Autumn. We offer further off campus programmes allowing us to help serve children throughout each step of their illness, through our Hospital Outreach (HOP) and Camp in Schools Programmes. HOP brings the optimistic, playful spirit of Barretstown to children in the hospital setting. It helps us to bring the happiness and fun of the Camp’s Programmes to children living with a serious illness all year round. Our Camp in Schools initiative is designed to reduce feelings of isolation and help integrate a sick child back into their school environment. This educational programme helps to explain illness in a child friendly manner. Our unique Therapeutic Recreation model is recognised by paediatricians and psychologists all over the world as an important and necessary component of a child’s treatment. “Barretstown’s as important as the chemotherapy we give kids with cancer in adolescence, it’s as important as the nursing care, the doctoring care; it is part and parcel, equally a part of their treatment” according to Professor Owen Smith, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist.
How can the public support this work?
Barretstown depends on the generosity of individuals, companies and foundations to fund the €5.5m we require annually to run our programmes. In addition to direct donations, this support can come in ways such as supporting our events and organising local fundraisers. We work very closely with several companies who have selected us as their charity of choice, and our team ensure that the partnership is mutually beneficial. In addition, we encourage colleges, schools and organisations around the country to get involved in fundraising for Barretstown and to help us to raise awareness. We could not run our programmes without our amazing volunteers and we need to recruit over 1,800 annually to help make a positive impact on children and their families living with a serious illness. Our volunteers are an integral part of making camp happen. All the information needed to volunteer at Barretstown can be found on our website https://www.barretstown.org/. We run an educational Transition Year Programme twice yearly which gives students an overview of how Barretstown operates, an insight into our programmes, volunteering and fundraising and also incorporates life skills. The Transition Year Programme also helps us to raise awareness and we encourage students to register. We facilitate corporate team building through site enhancement and hire. Since 2015 to date, we have hosted 4,877 volunteers on 225 corporate days, raising €360,536. This support plays a vital role in helping to prepare our site for our camps. “Taking part in the Helping Hands day at Barretstown helped our group bond and develop over the course of the day and at the same time complete meaningful work for the charity. Very rewarding experience for everyone who took part!”. Employee, Pfizer
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
Accountability and transparency are vital in everything we do. Our Annual Report and Financial Statements are published on our website. Our 2017 Annual Report has been shortlisted for the Published Accounts Awards 2018. Barretstown fully complies with the Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations. This code is a voluntary code of practice for good governance of community, voluntary and charitable organisations in Ireland. We also comply to the Guidelines for Charitable Organisations on Fundraising from the Public. Barretstown is audited by PwC and is compliant with FRS 102, the UK Charity Account Standard which is not yet mandatory in Ireland. Barretstown is governed by its Board of Directors. The Directors work in a voluntary capacity and have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the charity has the appropriate systems of internal controls in place and to monitor their effectiveness. In addition, Barretstown is overseen by its five Standing Committees – Childcare Advisory, Development, Finance & Audit, Nominations & Remuneration and Risk & Governance. Barretstown is audited regularly by the International Camp Evaluation (ICE) and SeriousFun Children’s Network. It was awarded a score of 100% in its last two audits. This year, we received All-Star accreditation for Thought Leader in Charity Governance at the All-Star Business Awards.