Thank you so much to everyone who has supported our Emergency Coronavirus Appeal – we have been overwhelmed with the generosity of so many.

Read Chief Executive Sarah Gardner’s message here: 

12 long weeks ago, when we began to understand the potential impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic, I was extremely anxious, to say the least. As well as fear of the virus its self, I felt terrified of the affect lockdown could have on ATE, on our ability to raise the funds that we need, how this could impact our staff, and worst of all, how it could make life so much harder for the children and adults that rely on us in Lawra.

Schools and markets closed, food was difficult to buy, and where it could be found prices were rising quickly, we had to the shut the doors of our Inclusion Centre. The thought of turning away from our disabled children, from our school children, it made me feel physically sick.

With all usual fundraising activities paused, we tentatively launched an Emergency Campaign, to try to fill the gap, to try to keep ATE safe.

Within hours of launching the appeal, hope was restored. We have been overwhelmed and overjoyed with the incredible support from so many people – from £5 to £1500, every single donation has been celebrated. In total, over the last 3 months – our Appeal has raised an astonishing £29,257. Just £743 away from our original ambitious £30,000 target.

The generosity of you, our incredible loyal supporter base, has meant that we have survived this crisis. And we have been able to ensure our beneficiaries survive too.

In this time of dreadful hunger, our team have worked tirelessly to provide food aid to people who need it the most. Our disabled children and their families have received a monthly care package, directly to their home. Whilst visiting these families, we have been able to check on safety and wellbeing-  we intervene where needed, standing up for the most vulnerable, making sure that they are safe. We’ve also been able to help the children at our most rural schools. Where food from last years harvest has now run out, and the current crops are still in the ground. We’ve made sure they have something to eat. We have provided facemasks and soap – helping to keep our people safe from the virus.

We have protected livelihoods. Through targeted mentoring and guidance– we continued to work with our small business owners, we have supported them to diversify, to make sure their business survives.

We have taken care of our staff – we are so relieved to have been able retain all 34 of our staff members throughout the pandemic. These salaries are often the only income for a large family group, in this time of economic challenge – our 21 school cooks have been able to feed their families They eat at least twice every day, unlike the majority of people in rural Lawra.

This work has been made possible by the dedication of our staff. From fundraising strategy to food delivery, with hundreds of vital tasks in between, I could not be prouder of every single person we employ. In fear and uncertainty, they have been flexible and committed – with the needs of beneficiaries central to all that they do. Our team is outstanding.

Of course, there have been pockets of devastation that we haven’t been able to prevent. Many of our rural school children have travelled south to work, our mothers of disabled children have drastically reduced incomes, most of our families are eating just once a day – even with our help. It makes my heart hurt.

Over the coming months I’m very aware of the need for continued energy. Some days, with back to back zoom meetings, it’s not easy. But we will continue, we will find a way to help Lawra recover when this is over. Imagining our school kitchens open, with happy healthy children eating and learning and playing – this keeps us moving forwards.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us through this crisis so far. I couldn’t be more grateful. On Wednesday 17th June we will close our Emergency Appeal, and look forward to the next phase for ATE.