Acorns children's hospice charity unveils five-year plan to increase services and income by half

The charity, which has three hospices in Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester, plans to take on 120 new staff

Acorns hospice, Worcester
Acorns hospice, Worcester

Acorns, the Birmingham-based children’s hospice charity, has announced a five-year plan to take on 120 new staff and increase services and income by 50 per cent.

The charity, which has three hospices in Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester, cares for 640 children a year. It said it is planning to increase services to support 960 children a year, leading to an increase in annual care costs of about £4.2m.

The charity said it would require an increase in overall income of almost 50 per cent by 2018 to meet this plan and maintain an appropriate level of reserves.

Acorns had 302 staff and an income of £12.83m in the year to March 2012, according to its most recent set of accounts. In the year to March 2011, it had 284 staff and an income of £13.22m in the year to March 2011.

In 2009, the charity announced plans to cut 15 staff as part of a bid to save £1.5m as part of a "survival appeal".

The charity said it had survived and moved on from this period through careful management and improvement in its processes.

"The global economic downturn in 2008 and the subsequent recession with which we continue to grapple were catastrophic for so many charities and we were no exception," the charity’s five-year plan said. "It had a very deleterious effect on almost every area of the trust’s operations."

It said that after "a prolonged period in which we had severely to restrict our services" it had now "eventually turned from surviving the recession to managing the on-going challenges within the resources at our disposal".

It is now hoping to increase revenue from existing fundraising streams by 5 per cent a year, secure at least 40 per cent of all of care costs through statutory funding, and grow the profits of its chain of retail shops by 14 per cent a year.

David Strudley, chief executive of Acorns, said that the decision to expand was driven by a vision that "every child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition should receive the care and support they need".

The charity said that its research had found 2,000 such children in the West Midlands region.

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