Charity's emergency appeal after losing £2.1m in pandemic

Break chief executive officer Rachel Cowdry pictured centre with the rest of the team

Break chief executive officer Rachel Cowdry pictured centre with the rest of the team - Credit: Break

An East Anglian children's charity has launched an emergency appeal to help recover some of the £2.1 million reduction in income due to Covid. 

Break, which provides a lifelong commitment to young people on the edge of care, has suffered as a result of its charity shops being closed and a lack of fundraising activities during the pandemic. 

The Be There for Break appeal hopes to raise some money to cover the losses at a time when children and young people have been feeling even more isolated and vulnerable. 

The charity, which runs the GoGoDiscover trails in Norwich, is working hard to give these young people the support and care they need. 

Rachel Cowdry, chief executive officer for Break, said: "For many people we support, it is the first time anyone has put them first and we aim to create and become like a loving extended family to them, being there for them and making sure they know they are not alone.

Rachel Cowdry at one of the Coffee Break vans, which enables young care leavers the chance to engage in real work.

Rachel Cowdry at one of the Coffee Break vans, which enables young care leavers the chance to engage in real work and learn new skills. - Credit: Break

"Now, we really need people to be there for Break, to make a donation so that we can continue our services and be there for as many young people as possible.

"Government grants and schemes like furlough have helped us survive the past year, but we now need people to donate and help us.”


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As well as the financial impact on the charity, Break’s team have had a difficult year supporting children and families.

Mrs Cowdry continued: "For many of the young people we support, Covid has proven their worst fear – that the world is a scary and unpredictable place, and it has only added to the barriers they face.

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"The year has been incredibly intense for our team and the young people we support, dealing with home schooling, increased feelings of isolation and not being able to provide opportunities for those ready for the workplace or next step." 

Peter Marron from Break with a T-Rex GoGoDiscover sculpture ahead of the Norwich trail this summer

Peter Marron from Break with a T-Rex GoGoDiscover sculpture - Credit: Mark Benfield

She hailed Break's team for "going the extra mile" in delivering vital services with innovations such as Motivational Monday, Workout Wednesday, providing activity packs, meal kits and online courses. 

People can support Break by donating online at www.break-charity.org or calling Break on 01603 670109. 

'Often we are their main contact'

Gemma Brunelli has worked at Break for two years, supporting young people to move from a previous care placement into one of Break’s properties or their own tenancies.

Mainly working across location in Norwich, she also did a 14-hour shift in one of the charity's children's homes in King's Lynn at the start of the first lockdown. 

Mrs Brunelli said: "Quite honestly, I was so anxious having never worked in a home like that before. You see shows like Tracy Beaker and think it will be like that, but it wasn’t.

"It really was like a family with everyone eating dinner together around the table and laughing and joking, just like any other family."

She works with young people to help them with their day-to-day tasks such as budgeting, finding a job, writing a CV and supporting them with independent living skills. 

Mrs Brunelli recalls working with a young man who had high levels of anxiety, who would send her a text message every Friday to say he was struggling. She supported him and helped him move into a property during lockdown. 

She said: "Some young people who have left care don’t have anyone else to contact them. Making friends as a child is easier but, as you get older, it is actually really hard to make valuable friendships.

"Often we are their main contact and relationship, so building good long term relationships with these young people is so important."

'When a family breaks up, the consequences can be devastating'

An 18-year-old called Hugo has been supported by Break for 10 years, and moved into the charity's bespoke home for children with disabilities at Morley House in King's Lynn two-years-ago. 

Having been living with his grandmother Ann when he was six-years-old following the break-up of his family, Hugo was offered a place at Morley House as respite care. 

Ann said: "Hugo’s stay at Morley House has been so positive and he has learnt to be more independent, how to cope and manage his emotions, and learn to share and have empathy for others.

"He had to deal with the loss of his grandad, and, with much support from Break, coped really well. His experience at Morley House has given Hugo a quality of life I could never have given him."

She continued: "We are now facing a new chapter in Hugo’s life, as he is now going to be moving on. Break are working sensitively with Hugo in preparation for this transition and I am so grateful that Hugo is receiving all this support, as it would have been a daunting task for me to face alone." 

For more information about Break visit break-charity.org

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