Terry Hawkins, CEO of Crossroads Care Surrey, gives us an insight into his experiences heading a charity
What drove you to change your career path to work in the care sector as a whole and from this, were there any major challenges that you had to overcome in the changing work environment?
Having enjoyed success with other leading charities across the UK supporting people, I was asked to join Crossroads Care Surrey in January 2020 with a view to making transformational change. As you can imagine, what I wasn’t expecting was a global pandemic just nine weeks into the role.
As you will be aware, Coronavirus landing on UK shores impacted the health and care sector enormously. Our primary concern was for our beneficiaries. We needed to suspend our core care service in the home and our community activities. A dire situation, which required us as a business to react quickly to ensure we could continue to provide services to support our beneficiary base and sustain the charity’s financial viability.
We diversified our offer of providing other support services including befriending calls and outreach support. Bizarrely, we found ourselves in a position where we were providing help to not only our existing carers but to those most vulnerable and older people living alone who could not get help from their regular support services.
Has your reason for working shifted now that you work with a not-for-profit? If so, in what way, and have you seen any changes to the way you approach your work?
In working for a non-profit, the biggest reward is seeing the tangible outcomes, the distinct difference you make for the people you are supporting. In my long career in a commercial environment, I was driven by improving products and services for commercial business, generating income for the board and shareholders. Success and profits were great, but there is always an expectation to deliver more, especially in a fast-moving business like publishing.
In the three main charities I’ve worked for, I’ve very quickly become passionate about each cause, I could see the demonstrable impact of the work we were doing to transform people’s lives and it feels good to know you’ve been part of something special.
In this sector, many people who work for charities do so because they have a desire and belief that they can help the people they are supporting. So as a manager, you must take a different approach to how you work within that culture, especially when introducing transformational change. There is a need to take a subtle and controlled lead, ensuring that you take the team with you across every step of the journey, ensuring they are comfortable and that they understand the reasons that you are making the change.
As someone who is focused on transformational change, what would you say have been the largest changes that you have put in place since you joined Crossroads Care Surrey?
When I joined, it only took a few short weeks to see the significant changes that were required to bring the charity to a better way of working. First and foremost, for Crossroads to remain sustainable we needed to improve our processes, have a competitive edge to complete for statutory funding, and to develop new opportunities to drive supporting business income.
Initially, we made some simple changes like moving to an app-based VOIP telephone system enabling our workforce to work remotely. We introduced a cloud-based CRM to control our data and improve communications with our key stakeholders including most importantly our beneficiaries.
We also set about raising awareness of the plight of those who give care unpaid and share the story of how we help. When the public can see themselves in the story, they can begin to resonate with our work. So, with a full rebranding exercise, including the redevelopment of our website and improved communications we have increased our reach by 190% and engagement with new supporters by 57% in the last year alone.
We also made significant improvements to the staff structure with new minimum 20-hour contracts with enhanced career progression for all caring employees. Our employees are now in a better place to support more carers, more often. Additionally, all caring employees have mobile technology with a new digital care planning platform called Access Care Planning. The app records care plans digitally in real-time, recording care duties and responsibilities – we are no longer reliant on paper-based communication, internally, or with our client carers.
What makes Crossroads Care Surrey special?
We are not like other care providers; we do not provide domiciliary care on the clock. We are unique because the professional care we give supports unpaid carers to have a regular weekly respite break, to enjoy quality time away from a caring responsibility and to balance life with peace of mind that a loved one is in the safe, reliable hands of the Crossroads service.
Assuming that fundraising is the largest problem area, as with most charities, what programmes have you put in place for such fund-raising and how, and why, should local businesses get involved with the charity?
Care is an expensive business and as a charity, we rely heavily on a mix of income sources to be able to deliver our core services. This includes support from local government and the NHS as well as the more traditional fundraising sources such as trust and grant-making organisations, local corporate businesses, the community, and individuals.
With Covid in 2020, we were not able to partake in community fundraising initiatives in our community, with many of our own events and that of our supporters cancelled. However, we have been lucky enough to benefit from increased income through specific Covid funding. One such fund supported our core costs including the additional expenses of PPE, staff salaries and the shortfall of predicted fundraised income. Another fund supported a specific project to help carers and their families benefit from befriending calls and outreach services during the lockdown periods.
In 2021 and since the easing of restrictions, we have done a great deal to shift our fundraising strategy towards individuals and our growing community of supporters, including local corporate businesses. With two in every three people caring during a lifetime, it is important that employers recognise that there may be unpaid carers within the workforce, and they need to be able to offer them the support they need with the flexibility to balance their work with a caring responsibility. We can help employers through a range of support measures which include training to implement carer friendly policies, and in return, we would encourage corporate businesses to get involved with our work through an active community social responsibility programme and to encourage employees to volunteer, fundraise or donate through their work.
In the age of Covid, what has been the most challenging thing for your staff and yourself at Crossroads Care Surrey, and have you found that the way in which you carry out your care has changed?
Many families we support, have not felt confident to have our carers in their home, especially when cared for loved ones were vulnerable and older. As frontline care providers, our professional carers followed strict infection control measures and to date are still wearing full PPE, but for many lacking confidence, this was not enough. However, now the vaccination roll-out, many families now have increased confidence to receive support again, with referrals increasing 100% since pre-pandemic levels.
We know there is a long way to travel to where we want to be to help more all unpaid carers across Surrey. We are stronger as one and we are very much looking forward to working with businesses in Surrey as part of our membership to Surrey Chambers of Commerce.