Message from The Scar Free Foundation Chief Executive
At The Scar Free Foundation we have been working hard over the last few weeks to navigate the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our research, our staff and our beneficiaries. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 crisis will have an indelible impact on the Foundation.
Much of our research must pause, our fundraising activity has had to stop and our reduced staff team are working harder than ever. However, we remain optimistic for the future. We are confident that The Scar Free Foundation will survive the current crisis and emerge stronger than ever to continue our pursuit of scar free healing in a generation.
Our Scar Free Research
Inevitably, as many research staff are deployed to clinical care, laboratories and offices are closed, and distancing guidelines restrict activity, much Scar Free funded research has now paused. There are exceptions and we are pleased that we can continue meaningful research activity in many areas of our conflict, cleft and burns research programmes. We are so proud of those clinical researchers who have swapped lab coats for face masks and returned to front-line, NHS services. Our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our researchers and keeping our experienced and expert teams together so that when restrictions are lifted, our research can continue at pace.
Our running costs
We have already reduced our running costs even further than our normally efficient base. A sixth of our staff have been furloughed through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other, non-essential costs have been cut. Our remaining, very focused staff team are working effectively from home and we remain very much, open for business.
Perhaps the greatest impact will be on our income. We rely on voluntary contributions and our usual fundraising methods – face to face meetings, receptions and events – are now not possible. Clearly, the greatest needs now lie with those causes directly involved with front-line COVID-19 relevant services and support. For this reason, we will not be actively fundraising through an ‘emergency’ or COVID-19 related appeal. However, we are already looking at different ways to connect with our supporters, conscious that physical distancing may be an element of the ‘new normal’ after lockdown. When the time is right, we will be reaching out more than ever, to current and new supporters alike, with compelling stories of the impact of scarring, the work we are supporting in pursuit of scar free research and the life-changing potential of new treatments that are only possible through research.
I could not be prouder of the research we have supported, the progress we have made and the lives we have changed over the last 20 years. We did not anticipate spending this, our anniversary year, making these difficult decisions but they must be seen in the context of the larger picture. Of the human tragedies that lie behind the headlines; lives and loved ones lost as well as the very personal challenges faced by people, many with scarring conditions, whose treatments have been deferred. Our thoughts and wishes are with these.
In conclusion, our focus has not changed. There are more than 20 million people living with scarring in the UK today and the needs of people affected by scarring conditions – lost function, reduced mobility, psychological challenges – remain the same throughout and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Our focus is to emerge and rebuild our activities through the current restrictions in order to maintain our single-minded focus on the pursuit of scar free healing within a generation.
With very best wishes