Today marks the publication of our latest Annual Report, and The Trustees of Speakers Trust are delighted to report on the huge progress made by the charity in the year to August 2020. The charity has shown its resilience to the challenges created by Covid-19 and is positioned well to achieve its mission in the coming years through the digital transformation of its programmes.
2019/ 20 has been a year of two halves. By the end February Speakers Trust had trained 23,000 students, in 572 schools. With lock down from March, the organisation was no longer able to deliver workshops in schools. The core team moved to safeguard the organisation and ensure that it could emerge from the lockdown stronger than ever. Central to this has been adapting to a digital delivery model, and before the end of July, 14 regional finals had been delivered on-line, allowing 162 students to deliver their speeches to an audience of peers, judges and supporters. Throughout the summer work has been ongoing to develop and test a suite of digital resources to enable training to recommence from the start of the new academic year, even if access to schools remains restricted.
This year marked the 14th anniversary of the partnership between Speakers Trust and the Jack Petchey Foundation, to deliver the Jack Petchey “Speak Out” Challenge. This is a programme that offers public speaking training to young people in every state secondary school in London and Essex and demonstrates the importance of such skills through a network of competitions, enabling young voices to be heard. We are very grateful for the support of the Jack Petchey Foundation during the months of lockdown, which enabled development of digital resources, and the on-line regional finals. The strong relationship between the two organisations continues with the agreement of a further grant for the academic year 2020-21. A similar programme in the West Midlands, supported by HSBC, was funded for a second year, reaching young people from diverse backgrounds with varying abilities. We are appreciative of HSBC’s continued support throughout the year, and are delighted to have agreed a further grant for 2020/21 to enable the programme to be transformed into a digital format.
The charity’s mission continues to be focussed on its beneficiaries, extending reach further across the country particularly into areas of most need where our work can impact social opportunity and inclusion. Funding from a variety of sources, including trusts and foundations, such as Aim Higher and the Sussex Learning Network enabled the charity to run programmes across the Midlands, Yorkshire, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset and Wolverhampton. Trading work, where the charity sells public speaking training to other third sector organisations has also been increasing and proven to be highly receptive to digital learning formats. A fundraising dinner, organised in February by our founder, Sue Warner, secured some £50,000 in unrestricted funds, and extended the charity’s network of friends and supporters. The charity is extremely grateful to every one of our funders and donors.
Our CEO, Russell Findlay, has been instrumental in leading the charity throughout the year, responding swiftly to the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown, adapting to a digital delivery model and tightly managing finances. Key successes this year have included:
The Speaker’s Trust board, was chaired by David Butter until July 2020, when Fiona Wilkinson, previously deputy chair, was appointed as interim chair.