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Owen Simon legacy

| 07.11.2018

Details of plans for the legacy bequeathed to the BSA by the late Owen Simon.

BSA has received a legacy of £290k bequeathed to us by Owen Simon, an active and dedicated supporter of the BSA who sadly passed away in March of this year. The charity will also receive the proceeds from the sale of Owen’s house, which will be in the region of the August 2018 probate value of £860k. This will have a transformative impact on the BSA. We have been working with the trustees since June to look at the needs of the charity and how to make this a sustainable and effective organisation. 

We will use this legacy to build the core functions of the BSA, long-term. These are:

  • To continue to provide a great service and information around stammering, and remain the ‘experts’ in our field.
  • To reach out and support those who stammer across the UK.
  • To help the public understand stammering. 
  • To grow our membership and supporter base.

We will continually develop and revise plans for the larger inheritance when it becomes available – be it months or years. In the meantime we want to use the £290k over the next 2-3 years to deliver on our core functions, to expand our influence and the support we provide, and be self–reliant.

Investment

We are planning to invest an initial £45k into staffing and infrastructure in the first instance, and spend in the region of £100k in 2019 and again in 2020, on staffing, support and infrastructure, as detailed below. The intention is that with or without the remainder of Owen’s legacy, we are sustainable and able to deliver a higher level of support and information to those who stammer, by the end of 2023. Where posts are new, we will be advertising and going through the full recruitment process.

Experts on stammering

We’ll be investing in ensuring the BSA has in-house stammering expertise, a gap created by Norbert Lieckfeldt and Cherry Hughes' departure. We’ll be recruiting imminently to fill this post, so that we can ensure that we provide the best advice and information on issues around stammering as efficiently and effectively as we can. Their first task will be to assess all the information that’s been built up over the years and assess what needs to be taken forward, updated and re-presented.

Website, helpline and webchat

This post holder will also be responsible for trialling out a webchat and phoneline pilot in 2019, with a view to rolling out the service five afternoons a week from 2020. They will also advise on the new website, which is in the pipeline, along with a new webmaster. 

We want the new website to be easy to navigate, allow users to find information and help swiftly and easily, whether that’s for a child or an adult, looking for therapy, support, help at work, recruiting, etc. And we’ll have a familiar face, Steven Halliday, keeping the new site refreshed with stories, news and articles from and by members. Steven will be working on the website as well as working with Lee Millam and Jacqueline Fitzsimmons on supporting members. 

Membership and infrastructure

We want to grow our membership and ensure that when you raise money for the BSA, organise an event, volunteer, start a local group or an online group, that we capture that information and understand just how you are involved with the BSA. Right now it’s a bit like working off an abacus in a supermarket – painfully copying and pasting information across each month.

We have to invest in a contact management system (database) fit for purpose if we are to sustain and build our membership, so that if 500 people decide to support in a day, we can manage that. There’s nothing so demoralising for members than having your fundraising efforts misplaced, overlooked or miscalculated. As part of this process we’ll appoint someone to provide the technical expertise on Salesforce (the new database), working part time, to oversee a seamless integration across the registration and donation process.  

We also need a professionally run office, where the phone is answered any day in the week. Many of you will have dealt with Jaqueline Fitzsimmons – we’ll be extending her hours so she can work four days a week in the office, and one day a week from home. 

Public understanding

We will be appointing a part time communications post to help guide and deliver our public messaging over the years ahead. Someone who will review and oversee the development of new information packs and promotional materials to support our campaigns, our members and proactively get out messages across to the media.

Annual foundation

Owen has left us a wonderful legacy, and in turn we’d like to remember him by creating a small annual foundation in his name. In the months ahead we’ll be looking at what this might deliver and how best to organise it.

Proceeds from the house

Whilst we can’t budget for Owen’s larger legacy, we have been making plans for it. We will be investing a portion of the legacy into generating additional income for the BSA and provide a modest reserve. Additionally, there are some functions within the BSA that we want to build upon; membership support, local groups, online groups and the Employment Stammering Network, as well as better functionality online. Nothing radically different – but it will help us reach more people, provide better support, encourage better and more communication, as well as more local and online groups.

Owen has left the BSA a remarkable opportunity at a time when the charity has been struggling to survive. This legacy gives us the opportunity to renew, to become again a strong and vibrant organisation which represents those who stammer; which platforms this warm-hearted close community; which advocates for those who stammer, their families and those working in the field. And with this legacy we want to reach out to the public and improve their understanding, respect and responses to those who stammer, so that anyone who stammers receives the respect, dignity and opportunity that we all deserve.

You can read a recollection of Owen, written by friend and BSA volunteer librarian John Ford, at https://www.stammering.org/speaking-out/article/owen-simon-recollection