Case Study: We Are Beams

We Are Beams

We are Beams is a local charity, established in 1996, which provides support services to disabled children and their families. It was originally set up by a group of parents of disabled children that could not access the right support services so the charity was established due to a need in the local area. 

Almost twenty years on the charity has developed in conjunction with listening and responding to the needs of parents and carers first. They support over 350 children and parents at any one time with 4 key services.

We are Beams requested £100,000 (£90,000 loan, £10,000 grant) through our social lending programme to provide working capital to cover staff and marketing costs for their new facility, Dragons Retreat. Dragons Retreat is an independent short break unit with six bedrooms providing overnight care for children up to the age of 19. 

In 2015/16 the unit provided 917 nights of accommodation, up nearly 50% on previous years. The provision not only supports and helps maximise the potential of the child but gives valuable respite time to the parents who in many cases can give some quality time to their other children. The retreat was doing so well they they onlty needed to take half of their original loan.

 

We decided the loan would be really helpful for us as we were in the early stages of setting up Dragon’s Retreat short break unit. KCF went through what the loan would mean, what the process would be, went through our accounts and how we could change them. They helped us improve, aided us in going forward and gave us the confidence to apply for the loan. The charity had never borrowed money before and as the new Operations Director, going to the board with this idea of putting the charity into debt was a scary thought. 

We were aware of what was expected from us. There was nothing hidden, it was all out in the open.  It wasn’t like a loan from a bank, we didn’t feel like we were on trial. KCF got what we wanted to do and why we needed it and also helped us get there.  It was as much in KCFs interest for the venture to be a success as it was for us. 

Alongside the loan from Kent Community Foundation we also received a lot of support and mentoring for where we could take the charity in terms of developing the services that we offered. The mentoring and support we got made us think wider and into the long-term and helped us to take that leap of faith in borrowing the money, knowing what we could do with it made a huge difference, not just to us as a charity, but to how I felt personally as the Director taking the charity forward.” Katrina Adams, Operations Director – We are Beams