Annual report for 2015

by | Nov 27, 2015

Dear fellow ‘Friends’ of Ray of Hope,

As always, this year, as with previous years, has been a mix of challenges and blessings. We have made new Friends – even our first corporate Friend – and as a result, we have been able to meet our responsibilities and end the year financially secure. However, on top of the scheduled building work, there were additional surprise costs to cover, and then this year’s major funding crisis came in the form of greatly increased sponsorship costs for those children sponsored into the Ugandan State School system.

Building work – In the summer of 2014 we began building work at the school to improve the sanitary conditions for the children and staff. A new toilet block was built to replace the totally inadequate previous structure.  Also, a proper kitchen was built to replace the shack from which food for around 150 was cooked each day.  Phase Two of the work commenced in January 2015 with work on the main building which involved knocking down internal walls to make best use of the space for classrooms.  An existing outbuilding was improved to enable it to be used by the women’s group as a workshop.  Although we had not anticipated a Phase Three, we were made aware that the main building’s roof timbers were in a very poor state and many needed to be replaced.  That work was completed by the early summer and no further building work is anticipated.  The reaction to the building work by the staff of Ray of Hope has been very positive.  Their workplace now looks the part, i.e. a proper school, and not just an adapted five bedroom house.  Staff and children have always taken a pride in belonging to Ray of Hope School, and that is even more the case now.  Emily (Project Director) said ‘At Ray of Hope School, the year started in a fancy new building. Our classes had been enlarged and our whole facility tiled and is looking so great. All the pupils and staff were very excited to be operating in such a new home. A big ‘thank you’ to all those who made this face -lift possible.’

Funding crisis – Early this year we were made aware that the amount of money we were sending out to sponsor Ray of Hope graduates through their secondary education had been increasingly falling short.  A request to sponsors to raise their funding has met with only partial success and has left us facing a considerable extra sum to find each term.  We are grateful to those sponsors who were able to raise their sponsorship, and we do understand that others may not be in a position to increase their giving.  The Trustees felt that we needed to maintain our commitment to the children already in education and so we have been meeting the shortfall.  All future sponsors will be asked to sponsor at a higher rate (£20 monthly minimum), although even this figure falls short of the current cost, which is expected to rise even further.  So, although we have decided to honour our commitment to those children already sponsored, we will not be looking to take on further children for the foreseeable future.

New Corporate sponsor – We are very grateful to Lottery Funding Services Ltd who have chosen ‘Friends…’ as a local charity that they wished to support.  We have benefitted directly with a very generous gift early in the year which enabled us to meet this year’s challenges with confidence.  In addition, both corporately and individually, the staff have sponsored a dozen more children, bringing the total number of children now sponsored by our group to 53.  Thank you LFS!

In addition to LFS Ltd, we would also like to express our appreciation to All Saints Church, MoS, who have adopted Friends of Ray of Hope for a minimum of three years. Thank you.

Gift Aid – After a long process involving delays and re-submissions of our application, we are now registered with HMRC for the purpose of claiming gift Aid, and in the closing days of 2015 we received our first Gift Aid receipt.  This means that each year from now on we will be able to claim back the tax that many of our supporters have paid on their gifts to us.  Our first receipt from HMRC was £4,586, a substantial boost to our income and a great help to us. Our first claim was for the year 2013. The plan is to keep our claims two years in arrears so that we will always have a fall-back fund if we require to draw upon it.

Accounts – The detail of the accounts are available separately, but just to give an overall view in round figures, we began the year with £22,000 and finished the year with a balance of £29,000.  Our income was £41,000 for the year and our out-goings were £34,000.

New Trustee – We welcome Sue Forward of Milford on Sea as our new Trustee, bringing our number to five.  Sue has been an active supporter for some time, specifically running a monthly coffee morning group to raise funds.

2016 – We do not have any major expenditure planned for the next year.  We will however be exploring the possibility of a future expansion of Ray of Hope School to enable us to keep our children another three years, that is, to the end of their primary education.  This will mean the purchase of a piece of land and building classrooms etc, and will necessitate finding major funding.  This is not something that will be happening soon, but it does mean that we will be exploring the possibility, the costs and the potential for funding.

Staff wages – The Trustees have decided that our staff at Ray of Hope School should receive a pay rise in line with inflation since the last increase in April 2014.

On behalf of the Trustees I would like to end by acknowledging that without the commitment of all of our ‘Friends’, the wonderful work done by the team in Kampala would just not be possible. So, ‘Thank you’ for being with us for the long haul.

Approved by the Trustees and signed on their behalf,

Steve Jennings

Chair of Trustees