Springhead’s Director, Edward Parker, explains how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Springhead, and how we are planning for the future.
Springhead has, along with many other businesses and charities, been closed now for the best part of 8 weeks. Unfortunately, this happened to coincide with our busiest and most important time of the year. A time when there are usually school groups staying during the weekdays and weddings and other functions being hosted almost every weekend. All events have been cancelled until the end of August which is very disappointing for those who were looking forward to spending time here, but also means that we have been put in a difficult financial situation.
Fortunately, Springhead had a successful first four months of 2020 which meant that we were in a good shape financially at the end of April. Nevertheless, we have had to furlough most of our staff, reduce expenditure dramatically and apply for help via government grants. We are also unable to welcome our regular volunteers.
Good news too, is that we have been able to continue looking after the buildings and grounds at Springhead, and planning a brighter future. We are very lucky in that we have 3 kitchens , 9 bathrooms and 15 acres of grounds which make it easy for the few staff still working to remain socially distanced. We have continued to work on the Productive Gardens project, restoring and improving our kitchen gardens, planning for the restoration of our orchards, and looking into options for community growing areas. We hope to be able to distribute some of our produce locally while we don’t have our usual visitors here.
We have also been reflecting on the successful year we had in 2019. With the help of our volunteers, supporters and funders, a great many people were able to enjoy and learn from spending time in our beautiful gardens and grounds. During the year Springhead played host to 18 school and youth groups comprising approximately 520 children who mostly came on residential visits. Many of these children experienced things for the first time in their lives: for some, it was the first time they had stayed away from home overnight, built dens or had a campfire, and many had never been on a long walk in the country before or drunk from a spring. These experiences build confidence, social skills, life skills and environmental awareness, and most importantly, the children have a wonderful time. As one Year 6 pupil said at the end of one day ‘It was the best day ever’.
In addition, we were visited by community, family groups, church and wellness groups, bringing around 650 people to Springhead. During the year 18 activities were staged here, including arts and music events and open gardens. The Creative and Sustainable Living Fair in May attracted more than 400 people on a single day, and three open garden days were held, as well as our seasonal ‘Garden of Delights’ event in December. Between them, these events attracted some 1250 visitors to Springhead. We also provided the venue for 12 weekend weddings, which brought in much-needed unrestricted income to help fund our charitable work. Our environmental achievements included installing high levels of insulation, LED lighting and secondary glazing to save energy and installing a new sluice to make the hydro turbine more efficient. Outside, we managed our grounds to improve habitats and biodiversity, for example by laying hedgerows and coppicing willow in the reed beds (pictured below) – all with the help of volunteers. For more detail on our 2019 achievements see our impact page.
2020 is going to be a very hard year for Springhead but we are still planning for the future, and by looking after our buildings and gardens (the ornamental gardens look spectacular) we will be ready to re-open almost instantaneously when permitted, later in the year or early 2021. In the meantime, with the help from Government schemes and some of our regular funders we hope to be able survive lockdown. If you wish to support our charity during this difficult time by making a donation or becoming a Friend of Springhead please go to the Support Us pages of our website.
Thank you for your understanding. Let’s hope that we can return to some sort of normal in 2021.