CRASH chief executive Francesca Roberts explains how vital projects for the homeless are still carrying on despite huge challenges
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the charity CRASH and the people it supports. With all fundraising events cancelled until the end of the year, CRASH’s work to improve the lives of homeless and terminally ill people is in jeopardy.
CRASH chief executive Francesca Roberts spoke to Building to discuss what the industry can do to help.
What does CRASH do?
CRASH has been the UK construction industry’s social impact partner for almost 25 years. We unite the power and passion of the industry to do good by channelling their professional expertise, construction products and fundraising to create places of peace and dignity for people with a life-limiting illness, and places of hope and safety for the homeless. Our work demonstrates how the construction industry and the charitable sector can build more caring societies.
What impact has covid-19 had on CRASH?
It’s had an absolutely massive impact on funding. Everything has been cancelled right through to the end of the year, including our annual Dragon Boat challenge and our Wildgoose Chase treasure hunt, not to mention all of the construction industry award dinners for which we are the chosen charity. On the other hand, work on our current projects is continuing despite the covid-19 lockdown. I’m just so proud that these contractors have picked up the work and carried on with the new social distancing rules on site.
I’m just so proud that these contractors have picked up the work and carried on
What can the industry do to help?
CRASH is about to launch our Hope and Dignity appeal so we can continue our work across the UK. We would like companies to support us by making a donation, or by supporting one of our virtual fundraising ideas and they can get details of these from our website or directly from me. If any companies are interested in supporting CRASH with projects by becoming a patron, donating professional expertise or construction products then we would love to hear from them.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
CRASH is currently working on nine homelessness and hospice projects, including the Crawley Open House, a homeless hostel in Sussex, and the Wakefield Hospice in Yorkshire. CRASH only employs five people and we can work this way because of the partnership we have with the industry. This is a tough time for every company and yet the way some are standing by us and offering help is a testament to their humanity. This truly is social value demonstrated literally and when it is most needed.
This is a tough time for every company and yet the way some are standing by us and offering help is a testament to their humanity
What projects are you most proud of?
I’ve been with CRASH for 13 years so it’s hard to pick one, but two recently completed projects spring to mind.
At Ashgate Hospice in Derbyshire, CRASH helped to deliver nine beautiful rooms that offer dignity and privacy to people who need end-of-life care. When you have a terminal diagnosis, it’s so important to make the most of the time that’s left for you. On top of that, the funding we had saved them around £30,000, enough to cover the cost of a palliative nurse for a year. We have inadvertently allowed them to hire another nurse.
She said her son had been embarrassed to visit her, but now she had this new space she felt she could approach her son to ask him to come and visit
The second project is Caritas Anchor House, a hostel for homeless people in east London. Our transformation of the large ground-floor community space and lounge means residents don’t have to stay in their rooms but can relax, work and socialise in a beautiful shared space – or at least they could before lockdown! Quite a change if you have been living on the street and trying to avoid aggressive or indifferent interactions with people.
It’s the industry which created CRASH and sustains it. I would like to think CRASH is one of the jewels in the industry’s crown
The reaction of the residents when they saw it finished was just incredible. It’s given them somewhere where they are proud to live, which is so important. One woman had been homeless for a long time and suddenly having this beautiful space gave her dignity and pride. She said her son had been embarrassed to visit her, but now she had this new space she felt she could approach her son to ask him to come and visit.
This is social impact which is absolutely genuine across the UK. It’s helping people who are extremely vulnerable and it’s going to be helping them for years and years. It’s the industry which created CRASH and sustains it. I would like to think CRASH is one of the jewels in the industry’s crown.
>> You can make a regular or one-off donation via the CRASH charity website