All of us will have come across St John Ambulance at some stage either as the reassuring presence at major events looking out for us, or perhaps taking up one of their training courses in all aspects of first aid or perhaps even as a cadet and volunteer. What we probably have not appreciated is the vital role they have been playing during the pandemic. Nationally, SJA has so far recruited and trained over 25,400 volunteers to help the vaccination effort and are administering jabs in some of the mass vaccination centres such as the Brighton Centre and Excel.
Locally Sussex SJA have been training people every weekend at the AMEX and so far put over 800 of those volunteers into action whilst also providing over 13,500 hours of cover on wards at Brighton, Haywards Heath and Worthing Hospitals. And of course they have backed up the Ambulance Service which has been under so much pressure with COVID as well. Running such a huge organisation as SJA takes a lot of money and of course this year with no fundraising possible or events to attend that source of funds has all but dried up except for grants from the Government. As a result the management of the charity has had to take some very tough decisions to cut costs and that involves giving up at least 115 of their properties. That was to include the Southwick HQ in The Twitten until some of us stepped in and were able to secure a reprieve, but there is a catch.
The catch is that the building urgently needs a new roof and the cost has been put at £55,000. That is an extra £55,000 which the SJA does not have and so some of us have teamed up with the Sussex division of SJA and their local volunteers to see if we can raise it. The good news is that generous donors have already pledged £18,000 leaving us £37,000 to find by the end of this year. CAN YOU HELP US WITH THAT CHALLENGING TARGET?
The Southwick branch and their local HQ is one of the most important and busiest in Sussex and has always done well with fundraising in the past as you can see from the new ambulances and mobile medical centres garaged there. The plan is that if we can save the hall it can be opened up to even more local community groups so that this great facility can be shared by even more people in Adur. I think we can do this which is why I have offered to help out and we have produced a short video to explain why. The local community has been so fantastically generous in supporting our NHS heroes and others during this pandemic, as they have done so much for us, so let’s not forget these volunteers too.
We need to be able to show that we can raise the first chunk of money by the end of March to give a breathing space for the rest by the end of the year so at this stage we are looking for pledges of cash, offers of goods and services in kind and support and ideas for future fundraising. Maybe you could help provide building materials to bring the cost of the roof work down. Maybe you could run an event at work to raise some funds. There are volunteers from the SJA who are expert in fundraising who can give support and advice and we are roping the Council and councillors in too and I will be doing everything I can to help. So let’s make it fun as well.
St John Ambulance have always been there for us so let’s make sure we are there for them when they really need it.
Thank you for anything you may be able to offer. However small.
Tim Loughton MP