These are dark and unprecedented times for a lot of people and especially providers in the kid’s activities sector.
The keep calm and carry on stage is over and we’re into the social distancing stage, shortly to move into lock down, which means for the vast majority of providers many classes, holiday clubs and schools work has had to be put off.
At this time, we have to be selfless and think of minimising the death rates and the wider population because although it affects us greatly, it’s the elderly and people with underlying conditions that it’ll affect most and we shouldn’t be blasé about this as it could be our loved ones it impacts, so this stage is all about limiting the number of deaths.
In this respect, please do heed the advice of Government, Public Health England and the NHS and take it seriously please as we all have a responsibility to protect one another in difficult and challenging times.
A secondary, but very important factor for our members, is the businesses in the sector, the staff employed by them and the customers they serve.
Kieran from Stryde Accountants, who look after a lot of providers in the sector has helpfully put together a bit of advice around the government measures in place to help businesses that may be relevant:
The government is still yet to announce the details of many initiatives, but here are the headlines:
1) All business rates are reduced to nil for 12 months
2) If your properties rateable value is 51,000 or less you may also be entitled to a grant
3) 10,000 grants for up to 700,000 small businesses
4) Loans of up to £5m for small and medium businesses (details here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/what-youll-get)
The government has promised these will be in place by the start of next week.
Statutory sick pay paid from day 1 and up to 2 weeks for those choosing to self-isolate. - Details are here: https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay/what-youll-get
Employment allowance raised to £4k so the first £4k of employers national insurance is reduced for small businesses: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/changes-to-employment-allowance
We’ll get more details on these in the coming days but, use these benefits, grants and loans if you require them to keep you going through these lean months, ready to bounce back when the social restrictions are lifted.
In the meantime, there’s been a lot of innovation in the sector with people delivering online, either free as a measure of good-will, to keep supply going for customers who’ve already paid and indeed some businesses are charging customers for these services where possible to keep some revenue flowing in.
The CAA released a previous blog below which had some good ideas and advice to help to mitigate your losses over this time and keeping cashflow coming in.
It’s good to see people reacting and being creative and innovative in this area using online digital platforms to engage with customers, which will stand them in good stead when the crisis is over.
Morton Michel, who are a major insurer in the sector will be issuing guidance shortly on adapting your services online as there will be some sensible precautions to take into account when running your classes digitally. Morton Michel’s existing policyholders have been sent an email regarding insurance and the Covid 19 outbreak. If you have not received a copy there is further details on their website.
They’ve said they’re experiencing unbelievable levels of calls, emails, social media messages, which is impacting turnaround but bear with them as they’re doing all they can during this horrible time.
Think Smart, who provide the CRM systems for a lot of the sector are developing tools to link their system through to these online tools like Zoom too as far as I understand.
The team at What's On 4 Kids will also put your info about your digital activities and/or virtual classes online, in newsletters and on their social media channels. This can be anything such as downloadables/printables, videos, apps or links to schedules and guides of how to take part in virtual classes. Just contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Plus What's On 4 Kids are currently updating their search so you can add a new link to your classes pages that goes directly to your digital content PLUS parents can search specifically for class pages with digital activities so they can continue to enjoy activities at home AND find new ones. This is expected to be live by 20th March and if you need any more information about this then please contact What's On 4 Kids on email@example.com
It’s a very small silver lining, but some businesses are using the time they may have available to do some things they’ve been meaning to do for ages like product development, planning, getting ready for all the marketing they’ll need to do when or if they’re able, just to spend more time with their family and loved ones, in line with social distancing guidelines of course.
Keep monitoring the situation for any government advice that supersedes anything written in this and previous updates as this is such a fast-moving area that it’s very hard to keep up to date.
Keep engaging with the rest of the sector and your membership group - the Childrens’ Activities Association - as nearly everyone is in the same boat and we can support and advise each other through various methods and social media forums. We understand what you’re feeling, as most of us work in the sector too, it’s deeply affecting us, so you have our sympathy.
Rest assured we’ll be trying to think of ways to recover from this crisis, will try and engage with government where appropriate. If anyone wants to speak to me directly to have a short crisis management call, I’m offering that as a service to the sector to chat with them and see if anything I can say will help at all now or when it all settles down again. So just private message me on Facebook, @Sport_Mark on Twitter, or via my website as if I can help or just offer some sympathy, I’m happy to talk.
The main message is that parents, schools, nurseries and most importantly kids, needed your services before and will need your services more than ever when this crisis is over. So now it’s about riding out this storm, which won’t be easy but previous generations have gone through a lot worse. It’s time for this generation to show their strength and courage in adversity in these unprecedented and challenging times.
Please stay safe and if anyone wants to have a chat about managing this crisis, I’m offering this service out to people who want to get in touch, as obviously I’ve been doing this for all of my clients.
Director, Sport & Kids Activity Professionals & Childrens’ Activities Association Deputy Chair