We’re pleased to release our latest annual report and accounts for financial year 2020-21.
Like other businesses in March 2020, Wiston Lodge had no idea what would lie ahead for us during the pandemic. Work had just begun on the new-build Russell Hub facility, which promptly came to a halt.
Over the course of the year that followed, we saw 98 per cent of our guest income drop away, with residential groups unable to come and day activities cancelled.
Furlough schemes were of immediate help in ensuring our staff had an income and further government funding helped to cover our running costs. We also received donations through a resilience fund set up on our website. We are proud to have made sure our employees all kept their jobs.
Our other priority was ensuring staff remained safe. The estate and house had to be viewed through the lens of Covid as the private residence of some staff. As well as shutting the premises to visitors, the grounds remained closed until summer, when work was able to resume on the Russell Hub.
A skeleton staff provided essential maintenance and was on hand to respond to tentative enquiries from groups. We looked forward to an autumn reopening, and managed to welcome a few groups before the second lockdown in winter. Covid recovery funds were released and we were able to apply for these to help us plan a new way of working, including taking our work off-site.
We became accustomed to attending virtual meetings with our managing director, as we discussed how we could reopen safely. We watched as other outdoor centres fell victim to the pandemic, unable to sustain their staff and buildings.
As trustees, we are relieved that through wise use of furlough, funding streams and donations from individuals and organisations, Wiston Lodge reached March 2021 with bookings in the calendar. Our beautiful new Russell Hub was finished by spring and it quickly became apparent the facility would be invaluable for allowing us to keep groups separate from the main house.
We are grateful to our managing director Jonny Sutherland for his efforts. He put health first and ensured the staff were able to resume working and welcoming guests safely. Towards the end of the year Isobel Lindsay decided to step down as Chair. We would like to thank her sincerely for her leadership and hard work since the charity was formed.
Covid recovery has added a new dimension to working with vulnerable young people. Thankfully, our business model built over many years, and the resilience gained in this one, will allow us to continue and adapt our service.
Wiston Lodge Board of Trustees