Ellie’s Haven has come a long way since it was founded in 2007 and started providing holidays to families caring for children with long term and life-limiting medical conditions and disabilities in 2015.
It’s now approaching a turning point – the need to put in place arrangements so that its founders, Julie and Nigel Libby, can step back from day to day operations at the same time as ensuring that Ellie’s Haven continues as a highly successful charity with an army of volunteers and supporters based in and around Looe, as well as further afield in Cornwall and Devon.
Ellie’s Haven’s trustees which includes Julie, together with Nigel, its General Manager, have evaluated various options for achieving this goal and the best we decided was to see if we could merge with another charity that has similar values and would carry on the good work. We are now beginning to implement the resulting plan and want to share it with you.
The key points are:
We engaged professional help to identify and evaluate potential partners, which led to meetings with shortlisted candidates. One particular charity, Kids in Action, based in Bedfordshire, stood out because of its understanding of our priorities and its similarities with Ellie’s Haven. It runs activity clubs, day trips, holidays and safe play for children and young adults with special needs. It’s won significant funding from the National Lottery and some of the charitable trusts that also helped fund Ellie’s Haven.
“We have a lot in common with KIA and its founder, Paul Bowen-James,” says Nigel. “We’re confident that Ellie’s Haven will be in good hands with Paul and his team”
Under the planned arrangements Ellie’s Haven will act as an autonomous satellite of KIA. It will retain its identity and its existing assets will be ring-fenced for the sole use of Ellie’s Haven. It will benefit from access to KIA’s more advanced management systems and fund-raising resources.
KIA will offer holidays in Ellie’s Haven to its users but, as previously, about half of holidays will be reserved for families coming from Cornwall and Devon in accordance with Ellie’s Haven’s original governing document.
As noted, the main goal of the merger is to ensure the future of Ellie’s Haven after Julie and Nigel have relinquished their current roles. The charity itself is in a strong financial position as can be seen from the accounts filed with the Charity Commission.
Under the planned arrangements, Nigel will become a trustee of KIA with special responsibility for Ellie’s Haven, as will another long-serving Ellie’s Haven trustee, Sandi Houghton. Other Ellie’s Haven trustees will stay in place until the merger is complete and will remain available in the future to provide help if needed.
We have already recruited someone to take over from Nigel as General Manager: Sophie, Julie and Nigel’s daughter, so regular involvement of the founding family will continue. Further hires are planned.
Business as Usual
From the public perspective, it will be business as usual at Ellie’s Haven. The shop has been given a make-over during the pandemic lockdown and will continue as before. We hope all of our volunteers will be happy to return. It’s a similar story regarding the Haven itself – holidays will resume as before, as will sessions in the sensory studio.
We hope the merger will be completed in the next few months.