ACTION FOR ELDERS TRUST
REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES
FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 SEPTEMBER 2015


DECLARATION

The Trustees, who are also directors of the charity for the purposes of the Companies Act 2006, present their report with the financial statements of the charity for the year ended 30 September 2014. The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) 'Accounting and Reporting by Charities' issued in March 2005, applicable in law and the charity’s governing document.

REFERENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE DETAILS
Registered Company number
07698491 (England and Wales)


Registered Charity number
1145996

Registered office
2 Llys Aneurin
Garden Village
Gorseinon
Swansea
SA4 4HW


Trustees
L Morgan (Chair)
Action for Elders UK C.I.C.
E P Sherwood
W Emanuel.

Independent examiner
Watts Gregory LLP,
Elfed House,
Oak Tree Court,
Mulberry Drive
Cardiff Gate Business Park,
Cardiff
CF23 8RS


Bankers:
Unity Trust plc
Nine Brindley Place,
Birmingham,
B1 2HB.

STRUCTURE, GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT
 
Introduction:
 
This report and review is provided by the Trustees of Action For Elders Trust (charity no.1145996), whose registered office is at 2, Llys Aneurin, Garden Village, Gorseinon,Swansea.SA4 4HW. Action for Elders Trust is also a registered company (07698291) private, limited by guarantee and with no share capital.
 
The Trustees of the charity during the year were Lorraine Morgan (Chair), Wynford Emanuel, Edward Sherwood and Action For Elders CIC.
 
Action For Elders CIC, which has a separate board, is a Community Interest Company. It will donate all of its surplus (when in a position to do so) to the Trust through an asset lock. Directors of the CIC are allowed to sit on the Trust’s Board on a voluntary basis and give strategic and management advice, as required for the benefit of the charity. However, voting rights are restricted to one collective vote for those directors in attendance.
 
Following an extensive review of activities, income, expenditure and capacity, the charity adopted a Forward Business Plan in 2013-14. This was extended for 2014-15 and has now become a five year strategic plan to achieve financial sustainability and progressive service development. This plan sets out the charity’s mission, vision, values, aims and objectives for the period, and provides a framework for the reports of the Executive Officer to the Board throughout a particular year, alongside regular Trustee reports, as appropriate, and periodic risk appraisals.
 
The Board of Trustees met on three occasions and between these meetings the Executive Officer and Chair continued to consult frequently. Other trustees were also consulted and informed on a regular basis.
 
Throughout this year the charity continued to follow its strategic business plan and had no formal employees for PAYE purposes. It did, however, outsource to a variety of professional and experienced senior managers and service delivery professionals, as required to support our development and activities throughout the year.
 
The charity maintained and developed its relationship with its main financial advisers and accountants Watts Gregory LLP, who agreed to perform an independent examination of our accounts and gave advice far in excess of the fees charged. During the year we also sought legal advice from Wrigleys Solicitors LLP in regards to Governance and constitutional matters. This will continue throughout 2016.We are extremely grateful to both organisations for their support.
 
The Board has set a standard for reporting which is more exacting than usual for a charity of our size. The report and review also take into account certain aspects of the more recent Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) issued in March 2015.


 
Governing document
The charity is controlled by its governing document, a deed of trust, and constitutes a limited company, limited by guarantee, as defined by the Companies Act 2006.


 
Recruitment and appointment of new trustees
 
The Governing body of Action For Elders Trust are the Board of Trustees who are also members of its management committee. The Board meets a minimum of three times a year, or as otherwise directed by its Executive Officer. At one of these meetings, its AGM, the officers are elected for an annual term of office.
 
Our 2014 report mentioned that trustees recognised that further skills were needed to enhance the current board mix of gerontolgical consultants, service users, academics, public sector management, PR  marketing and business personnel. Regrettably, though the Board put a lot of effort into this area no new trustee appointments were made during 2015. The board will continue the process to recruit at least another two trustees during the course of the next twelve months with emphasis of expertise in one or more of the following areas: strategic management, service users, corporate business development, human resources, finance and law.

The board recognises that is it important to recruit those who fully understand the issues and challenges of older people and share the general philosophy of care and culture of the Trust in regard to the betterment of the human condition and organisational development. It was for this reason that our objectives in board recruitment for 2015 were not met. The charity strives to promote a culture of care and business acumen in equal measure and does not wish in its development to lose sight of its prime reason for existing.
 
Induction and training of new trustees
After undergoing a selection process procedure and interview all potential trustees enter into a six month probationary period which includes an induction programme that follows the guidelines as set out in the Charity Commission publication 'The Essential Trustee'.


 
Organisational structure

The administration and operational procedures of the charity are the responsibility of the current board of trustees, who delegate the day to day strategic and operational management of the charity to the Executive Officer and through this position to the appropriate staff through the method of sub contracting and delegation, where applicable.
 
 
OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES

Action For Elders Trust was registered in 2012 with the purpose of co-creating a world where we place older people at the heart of a community, giving them the support they deserve to ensure that they get as much value out of their later life as possible
 
Predominately, the Trust exists to relieve sickness and social isolation and to preserve and protect health amongst those aged 50 and over - and in particular (but not exclusively) those aged over 75 and whose independence or mobility may be restricted through physical or mental illness. It will carry out these objectives in the main through its flagship Balanced Lives Social and Economy Pathway model which addresses physical, mental and general well being issues. Other projects and strategies in line with the core objectives will be introduced as identified and being needed as and when required during the future development of the charity.

Public Benefit

In setting the charity’s objectives, the trustees have paid due regard to Public Benefit guidance published by the Charity Commission. How the charity fulfils this responsibility is contained in the various sections of this report and review.
 

 
REPORT OF THE TRUSTEES FOR THE YEAR ENDED SEPTEMBER 30th 2015
 
 
ACHIEVEMENT AND PERFORMANCE
 
“Autumn is really the best of the seasons and I’m not sure that old age isn’t the best part of life”
C.S.Lewis
 
 
Charitable activities and Review of the year
 
KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
 
1 Sustainability of current Balanced Lives Projects within the community in all geographical areas of delivery during a period of cutbacks to charitable funding.

2 New Care Home project funding support from major grant funder bodes well for our future sustainability and development.  

3 Evaluation of projects show significant improvement in all areas of beneficiary health and well being; in certain key areas more than 30%.

4 Support from a major company in the development of our volunteer programme.

5 Backing and support from a range of alternative funders and statutory bodies continues to show the importance of our strategic plan and direction.

6 Funders begin to invest in our core costs and building the sustainability of the organisation.

7 Beneficiaries speak of the benefits they receive from our programmes and the positive difference that it has made to their lives.

8 The ability to survive, gain support and make significant strides forward in the development of the organisation with minimal resources.  


“ Just remember once you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed” Charles. M. Schulz.

How Balanced Lives benefits people (1)

Bill is 79 and was referred to Balanced Lives by a physiotherapist as part of our ‘step down’ process from local health services. He is a widower with no family who spends a lot of time at home, feels isolated and describes losing interest in things.
Since joining our local community programme he has gained weight and met new friends……” Since I had a stroke and lost my wife I’d given up and lost focus. I knew that I still had something to contribute and now I feel able to do so again. It’s made a huge difference in my life and I have noticed that people in the group have started ringing me up asking for my advice and opinions on things.”


Our previous annual reports have reflected on the challenges of
developing a new national charity from a standing start in the current
economic climate of cutbacks and uncertainty. There are additional factors
associated with the sector, such as the newly termed ‘Starvation Cycle’
funding problem (See 2014 Annual Report for full explanation). We have
no intention of repeating in this report the frustrations that the board has
previously expressed on these factors. Indeed, the fact that
we are now in our fourth year of operation despite these restraints is a
sign of strong experienced management, good stewardship and a
determination to succeed against the odds. It is a reflection of our
passion and belief in our objectives. Just imagine what our social impact
would be like with greater funding and capacity!

However, there is no doubt that these constraints have again affected
both our intended progress and results during the year. In 2015 we had
to restructure our fundraising, pilot new projects, maintain our current
service delivery and source new areas of funding. The latter included our
very first financial support from a public health body, and we are
currently working on proposals to housing associations - resulting from
the close connections to these various bodies through our chair.

All of this opens new avenues of potential funding for us. However, our
objective is not just to deliver these new initiatives but to make these
new opportunities sustainable. Such are the evaluated and proven
improvements in the health and well being of our beneficiaries, along
with the significant amounts of savings that can be made to the NHS and
local authorities through our intervention, this should be reasonably
straightforward. The fact that it isn’t has nothing to do with the
effectiveness of our service but everything to do with our lack of
resources to highlight our successes and the reluctance of statutory
bodies to fully understand and appreciate the true benefits of working
with the third sector and the enormous positive contribution that we can
make to the health and well being challenges of older people. This
situation can change but will only be possible through investment in
personnel who will be our ambassadors or agents within local and
regional communities.

We are not alone in having this problem as other new health initiatives,
including those funded within the NHS, come up against the same
obstacles and some eventually fail because of them. Frankly, there is a
reluctance amongst many funders to invest in anything other than short
term initiatives. We believe that this thinking is flawed and does not
represent the best interests of either beneficiaries or employees. The potential
to build capability and sustainability is the key to any successful initiative
or organisation and that is what separates us from others. We are
determined to continue with our programmes and service delivery on a
long term basis. It is our responsibility to our beneficiaries where
research has shown that long term health and well being interventions
are fundamental to effective change in older people’s health.

Throughout 2015 we focused on larger grant bids over two-three years. These grants take longer to complete and even longer to reach a decision; such is the thoroughness of a two stage process. In one instance though we knew in August 2015 that our chances of receiving our largest funding support to date were very good the completion of the process and the award was eventually made in May 2016. During this time the organisation survived largely through a number of smaller awards and the dedication to the project of various
personnel including our Executive Director and lead project facilitator,
David Clyant who, in a variety of ways, helped us sustain our projects
and maintain a positive cash flow position.

The board also at this time made a strategic decision not to enter into
normal business arrangements expected of commercial organisations
(i.e. a loan/overdraft) despite both the internal and external pressures to do so.
Whilst one can argue that this might have made a positive difference to
our bottom line and allowed us to progress the organisation further,
we believe that this would have been outweighed by the negative effect
on our balance sheet which in turn would have had a detrimental effect
on the support of potential funders. Overall, our view was that this was a
perception that was one which we did not wish to have in a funding
environment which is already based on so many idiosyncrasies of
judgment.
It is worth noting at this point that the next reporting period will show a rise in significant funding from a variety of funders of some note. We are therefore confident as a Board that we are making progress. It is true to say that the route we have taken has not been the easiest but we have stuck to our intended plan and principles to achieve our objectives and this now seems to be bearing fruit.


Our emphasis on the importance of the sustainability of our core Balanced Lives
programmes throughout 2015 is because this service forms the essential
nature of Action For Elders Trust and our place in the world of care for
older people. These are the services for which on-going, reliable
resourcing and support are most desperately needed. Removal or
cessation of these services would, in all cases, have a detrimental effect
on the lives of the current beneficiaries of our programmes. It is for this
reason that the Board wishes to make a powerful statement of its
importance within our five year strategic plan. We wish all
stakeholders and potential stakeholders to know that this is not
uninspiring ‘core’ work, but is an on-going, pioneering response to the
challenge of social isolation, loneliness and risk to independence
amongst older people in today’s society.

How Balanced Lives benefits people (2)

Vivienne is a widow of 78 and had a dense left sided stroke a few years ago. Although she had some NHS rehab they seemed to concentrate on her legs and walking and, in Viv’s words, ‘ignored her shoulder and left arm problems’. She developed a frozen shoulder and no treatment was offered by her GP or anyone else. Through a friend Viv was self referred to our programme and attended every week. After regular movement exercises focusing on this area, plus some acupuncture and health checks, she is now able to raise her arm without any pain - which she had been unable to do before the intervention of our programme. “I am absolutely delighted” says Viv …….“ it has made such a difference to my life I am now free of pain for the first time in five years”


“ You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again”
- Bonnie Prudden


Year on year as our work with older people develops and our knowledge grows the need for a response to new issues and problems arises. These needs are usually communicated to us through a series of focus groups with older people themselves and the demands of wider changes and trends in society. As a result of this process and the assistance of Comic Relief we launched a new project that focused on the transitions into Care Homes and what Professor Charlotte Clark of Edinburgh University calls the ‘silent harm’ of being encouraged to sit in a chair.

Whilst borrowing elements from our Balanced Lives project we added other areas of concern that we felt needed to be addressed. The main one being ‘grief’. This delicate area is intensive and requires specialist support. Key to our work in this area are the use of memory boxes which we utilise to encourage the art of communication and positive life achievements of the beneficiaries. To date progress and feedback has been good and we believe that this new aspect of our work has huge potential to be scaled up. However, this additional work, despite its importance can only be developed as far as specific funding allows. Hence progress may be modest or more substantial depending on the level of support and project planning will be adapted accordingly. This has been our approach to date and requires an understanding of the nature of development work and skill in planning and monitoring work to ensure that it keeps pace with available resources.

Using this approach in the past, Action For Elders Trust has been able to develop new projects and initiatives from very small beginnings and very modest sums of money. It is the way that we have progressed to date and the current Balanced Lives is an example of this approach. Back in 2012 we commenced this project on a shoestring to deliver to just 15 people. Today, the project has been delivered throughout England and Wales to over 500. Such an approach, however while making the best use of resources in the pursuit of our objectives, makes it difficult to predict exactly how much additional income the organisation will require to fund both its development work and invest in its sustainability. In our plans for 2016 and beyond which are mentioned briefly elsewhere in this report the board is confident of making significant strides in income based on the work that was commenced during the year of this report and which are just beginning to produce results.

How Balanced Lives Benefits People (3).

Shirley is 78 and living in a care home. She is widowed and has family who live abroad. She was lonely and wouldn’t mix with other residents as in her words ‘she is too unhappy to talk to anybody’ . We engaged with her on a one to one basis through the use of a memory box. Gradually, she began to talk about her life and interests. She asked to come out of her room to attend our mobility sessions held in the common room. She told us ‘ I have at last been able to move a picture of great emotional value from a cabinet to my bedside table. It is of my husband who I miss so much but at least I now feel he is still close to me” She did not communicate this wish to the staff because she felt that they were too busy and she didn’t want to bother them. Staff have also noticed a change in both her attitude and confidence as a result of our intervention.

“ I may be old…… but I am not obsolete.” Arnold Schwarzenegger (as the Terminator)

During 2015 we commissioned an evaluation by a seasoned health professional currently managing system resilience for the NHS across Hampshire to assess the development and effectiveness of the Balanced Lives programme. Amongst a number of findings it highlighted a range of positive outcomes for the beneficiaries in health and well being ranging from 16%( social interaction) through to 66% (balance); the integration of volunteers allowed for greater socialisation and understanding of later life; the introduction of Individual Action Plans for the participants contributed to older people taking greater control over their own health choices and lifestyle.

Social Return on Investment (SROI) was also covered in the report with significant savings noted for the NHS in the areas of Polypharmacy ( 30%), falls ( 60%) and hospital admissions ( 40%).

The report concluded that Balanced Lives had real and tangible outcomes that were supported by academia with key factors for success including empathetic staff, holistic approach, suitable venues, sustaining engagement, volunteers, identifying local need, co-production, engaging local need and enabling progress to be measured.

For most of human history, life expectancy was barely long enough to ensure the survival of the species. In the 20th century, a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms, we are now living into our 80s, 90s and beyond. This radical shift in our life expectancy dynamics needs a culture that supports long life and long term planning and programmes such as Balanced Lives that are associated with assisting in longer and healthier lives.

According to the Sightlines Project from the Stanford Centre on Longevity people can thrive at advanced ages and the board and its senior management are working hard to ensure that we play a dominant and leading role in this incredibly important societal shift in our patterns of behaviour and expectancy.


“ There is no old age. There is, as there always was…just you” Carol Mattau

Financial Review

Action For Elders Trust financial year end is September 30th 2015. In order to further develop activity, services and opportunities the charity continues to ensure subject to the circumstances previously highlighted that it’s day to day finances are healthy, its accounting procedures are robust and that it is alert to the strategic issues and risks associated with the management of funds under its guardianship.

Financial Out-turn

The presentation of our accounts for the year reflects Action For Elders responsibilities in relation to the various grant funders that have supported us with income that is separately identified as restricted income in the SOFA with corresponding expenditure.

All of the financial income and expenditure both restricted and unrestricted underpins our mission.

Generally, there was a slight decrease in the overall funding total for this year over 2014. Whilst not welcome this was to be expected given that our limited resources were focused on planning longer term grant applications for funding which by nature meant that the efforts on shorter term income streams was significantly reduced. Our sortie into Crowdfunding to increase our unrestricted income was to put it bluntly disappointing and though lessons were learnt for the future it certainly didn’t assist us financially during this current year. Nevertheless, we still managed to attract the attention of some major funders such as Comic Relief and the work that we undertook in this period has now reached a successful conclusion with our largest ever award to date of some $ 225,000 pounds. This of course will fall under our next reporting period.

All of the restricted income awarded during 2015 was successfully delivered through a number of Balanced Lives projects and our final end of grant reports reflect the confidence of our funders in our ability to deliver and achieve our outcomes.

Our unrestricted funds are extremely small at this moment and are represented largely through the promotion of our lottery in partnership with Unity. We expect this area to experience significant growth in future years in line with the adoption of our five year business plan mentioned in more detail below. These accounts also reflect the beginnings of donations from events organised by our volunteers. Again, we expect this area of income to play a more important role in the diversity of income streams that we are planning to implement in the medium term.

Despite the reduction in overall income a surplus has been achieved within this accounting period due predominately to issues of timings and this will be re-invested into our mission objectives and programmes.

The Board wishes to thank all of its financial supporters and takes its responsibility of stewardship in the distribution of monies awarded to us with the due diligence expected of custodians.

Reserves Policy

During this accounting period the trust has received the majority of its income from restricted funding. These amounts have been focused on project implementation and delivery. The trustees are therefore currently unable to exercise a reserves policy due to this fact and indeed their view is that unless an organisation has sufficient income independently sourced either through a major benefactor, unplanned legacies or donations in its early years then the majority would also find it impossible to do so.
It is somewhat peculiar to the sector that small newly formed organisations within their first five years of existence are expected to follow the same guidelines of those who have been going far longer with far greater resources both human and financial. Indeed, it is the view of the Board that the necessary requirements of a reserve policy for organisations of our side can have a detrimental effect on our ability to raise money. As has been proven in many cases during the year in question, reserves are not the sign of a well run charity that is sustainable. Nevertheless, we recognise that it is part of the overall financial strength of an organisation. Thus, the trustees are working towards a policy of maintaining sufficient reserves in order to meet its primary objectives. As stated in our initial accounts it will be the policy of the board to establish reserves to provide for an initial period of three months. It must be stressed that it is the current view of the trustees that this can only be achieved after a period of time (say 2018 ) and only when other unrestricted income streams are fully established. If the charity was able to manage unrestricted levels of reserves then the focus would be on three headings-protection against disaster, cushion against the unforeseen and protection against mitigating disaster.


Principal Funding Sources

During this our fourth year of operations the principal funding streams remained largely unchanged from 2014 other than we were able to attract a small number of new funders to our work.

As reported previously our strategic aim is to move away from this reliance on grant funding and build sustainability through diversity. However our lack of core funding restricts us from moving forward on this income diversity as quickly as we would hope for and indeed also restricts us from scaling up just as quickly which we are otherwise capable of doing. In our Crowdfunding project for example whilst very professionally presented we lacked the sufficient resources necessary to build up the required number of donors necessary for it to have been a financial success. It is very frustrating for us for these initiatives to not produce the results that the sector says they can. Though as in most things in life the actual reality and the promotion of perception largely through self interests never go in tangent with one another.

Again, work conducted during this period has allowed us to secure a small amount of funding for core and hopefully, that will allow us to progress in a manner that can move this charity forward to a new level of financial sustainability.



Investment Policy and Objectives

There are insufficient unrestricted funds to consider an investment policy at this stage, although the trustees are fully aware of the ethical considerations to apply should future monies become available and would take the necessary advice from our professional advisers at the time of deliberation.

Risk Management

The Board have adopted a continuous process of risk assessment and management since the formation of the charity which it believes is at the correct level for a new and developing organisation. Where appropriate, robust systems or procedures , including financial have been established to manage the risk the charity faces at any one time. Once the risks have been identified a ‘traffic light’ system is then adopted to manage the risk and plan for any contingencies. The Board are satisfied that given the fact that this is still very much a new venture with a limited amount of resources for its core governance then the Trust has more robust systems, policies and procedures in place than many other organisations and businesses of similar size, structure and complexity. A review of risk is a standing item at all board meetings and we are continually in discussion with our professional advisors on matters of governance, strategy and risk.


“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.” Muhammad Ali

Looking Ahead in 2016

We are living through times of great uncertainty, anxiety and division. At the time of writing our society is experiencing unprecedented change not known since time of war. Not even our leaders are sure of our economic future and direction. The very nature of a charity and its work means that it is both in extrinsically linked but at the same time separate from external factors of politics and other agendas. The part that we play is to keep society whole and the better for our existence. Our mission is to survive, bring about change in the health and well being of older people and protect those in later life who are the most vulnerable. The term ‘austerity’ is everywhere and cutbacks are putting even greater strain on our ability to develop and deliver. Yet the charity is optimistic about its own future. As a board we have to see raising money as an objective in everything that we do including service delivery, otherwise using the analogy of the Starvation Cycle we will starve to death. No organisation, however grand its designs or worthy its objectives can survive without a sound resource base. As Action For Elders develops to better meet the needs of older people then the need of more sustainable resources grow. Moving towards a wider range of income streams has been identified as a developmental priority and the level of success in doing this in the medium term will determine how far we can progress in our developmental work.

Building our capabilities is the key to the next year and we are already beginning to go forward in this direction with new investment from the Big Lottery, Transform Foundation and the Lloyd’s Foundation. Creating a digital culture is part of this plan as we recognise that technology can enhance performance and growth through attracting new external funders or improving operational efficiencies. In 2016 we will through the above partners be investing in new social media tools and platforms that will allow us to engage directly with the general public in mutual areas of interest. This is key to any successful crowdfunding campaign or indeed fundraising strategy.

At the same time we recognise also that we must continuously evolve as an organisation looking to test and learn from new project initiatives born out of the collation of evidence from the co-design of existing programmes and develop into new geographical areas to test the model.

Aging is inevitable, but ageing well is not. No one should argue that finding ways to help people remain healthy, functional and productive for as long as they can isn’t a good idea. Health experts are now focusing on interventions that make sure the extension of years is of the highest possible quality. Action For Elders is already primed to lead the way, we just need the support.

“Autumn may be mellower, but what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits” Samuel Butler