A coronavirus update from our CEO

When the fireworks boomed and sparkled to ring in 2020 at the end of New Year’s Eve, there’s no way we could have foreseen what would follow.

Many of our individual hopes and dreams for the year were shattered just weeks later, as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world and changed our lives.

We’re now nearly halfway through the year and it all seems to have been a blur. The initial fear turning into a dawning realisation that there will be no quick return to ‘normal’ life.

I hope your family and friends have remained safe and healthy during the pandemic, but the raw statistics suggest that, for many of you, that will not have been so. In which case, I offer the love and support of everyone involved with Tiny Tickers.

Whilst much has changed, much has remained the same.

For us, there has been no let-up in our cause. Just as many babies have been born with poorly hearts, fighting for their lives against the dangerous, unrelenting and indiscriminate foe that is congenital heart disease, but now in the added context of a global pandemic.

And that fight has been made harder – heart services have been severely reduced; families have faced the most difficult situations without the physical support of loved ones.

Tiny Tickers has never been more needed.

That single fact has defined our approach to the pandemic. We have not furloughed staff, and we have kept as many of our services running as possible. We have ripped up some plans but created new ones – rapidly moving some services online and coming up with new ways of helping babies, their families, and the health professionals who look after them.

We decided, whatever it took, we’d do our best to be here for those who need us.

That’s not been easy. There were times as CEO that I questioned my decisions. During the first weeks of lockdown our income fell by 90% – clearly not sustainable and something that gave me restless nights.

It meant our small team of six staff worked tirelessly – juggling caring responsibilities; home schooling and work hours. In the case of Anne, our Head of Training, it also meant hospital shifts in extreme conditions. I asked a lot of our team, and I could not be prouder of the way they answered.

Then, in the midst of our falling income and those doubts about our future, the most amazing thing happened. Our supporters.

2.6 Challenge

When we told you things were getting tough, and that we weren’t going to receive a penny of the Government’s £750 million support package for the charity sector, you responded magnificently – generous with both your emotional and practical support for our work.

Our funding temporarily rebounded – spurred on by generous one-off donations; our fabulous 2.6 Challenge fundraisers; and the players of our new weekly virtual quiz. You bought – well, gave – us time.

Balance has been restored, to an extent. We’re not out of the woods by any stretch – future fundraising looks bleak with events cancelled and a dire economic situation looming. But we’ve approached something of an even keel for now and we’re hoping that will continue.

We feel protected – by a ring of supporters circling us and enabling us to get on with our work. And when we need to ask for your help again, I feel confident you will have our backs. For that I am so, so grateful.

Our face-to-face sonographer training is still on hold, but will return. New online training – webinars, videos, e-learning courses and presentations are at various stages of being rolled out. New support services for families are on their way. Other projects are slowly coming back as lockdown restrictions ease.

We’re still going; we’re still helping. Phew.

The future remains unclear. Tiny Tickers is on a slightly different path now to the one we were expecting as 2020 – our 20th anniversary year – rang in. Our new path may be more winding and riddled with potholes than the road we were on, but it still takes us to the same destination – a better place for babies with poorly hearts. Thanks for helping us along the way, and being part of our journey.

Jon Arnold, Tiny Tickers CEO