UK news Shane Logan: 'Northern Ireland ran towards the coronavirus pandemic rather than away from it' last news
MetiNews.Com - Shane Logan has gone from managing the business of a high profile sporting club to leading Northern Ireland's biggest social enterprise.
Breaking News ! "Shane Logan has gone from managing the business of a high profile sporting club to leading Northern Ireland's biggest social enterprise. It's a transition that has come easy, he says. But today he is on the frontline of Bryson Charitable Group's biggest mission yet, an emergency support package aimed at helping the most vulnerable individuals here during the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign has reached out further than was first anticipated and the drive has meant all hands on deck, with even Shane rolling up his sleeves and taking to the streets to deliver support.Bryson is Northern Ireland's biggest charity with around 1,000 staff who help over 30,000 people in need each year. It helps by offering services from domiciliary care to financial support. Its Covid-19 scheme, the Bryson Fund, initially helped 3,000 people by providing emotional support, food and finance. But as the crisis sparked by the pandemic deepened, the group's services expanded to things like helping people meet electricity and oil costs.Shane, who left Ulster Rugby in late 2018 to lead Bryson, says: "Coronavirus has impacted those in need in a greater way and to support those people we have used £250,000 of our own reserves. "Initially we set out to work with 3,000 people but that has grown to 4,500 in terms of food, financial and emotional support."He adds that Bryson "kind of ran towards the pandemic rather than run away from it"."During this crisis there is a big part of the community outside of the state too, those who wouldn't ordinarily be reached," he says. "So if you operate in the black economy or have a fear of authority or the state or, if you're not computer literate or struggle with reading and writing, you would fall into that group and outside of the system. "These people are not known, they're maybe not registered, earnings are not declared and there are many thousands of those people around. "Because we work in the coalface, and we're out on the streets, we know who they are."He adds that a majority of workers who faced a drop in demand for their services as a result of Covid-19 are also struggling and have come to the attention of Bryson - that's people including taxi drivers and other self-employed workers. "Suddenly these people have a big shock to their income levels, everyone is at home, living in a confined space and it's difficult to cope and this has collectively seen our levels of need quadruple," he explains.Dipping into reserves he says was a no brainer for the group. "We had to be bold. Any surplus we make we reinvest and we took a view that we're here to serve people in their greatest hour of need and now is not the time to protect ourselves," he says.As well as offering financial and emotional support, Bryson also plays a huge role in supporting the economically inactive through a range of courses.It's an element of its offering that has surprisingly intensified throughout lockdown."Our OCN courses provide qualifications that are equivalent to GCSEs. Some are vocational courses and young people respond fantastically to these so at a time when they have additional challenges because of Covid-19 to walk away would be the wrong thing to do, so rather than shutting up shop we have tried to up our game because these young people and families need it," Shane explains. "We have given hundreds of learners access to IT - whether that's buying tablets or dongles to make sure they're connected at home. "We've ensured that on a daily basis they are contacted and in some cases we've had to work with people we've helped, or work with their families to help them with food and utility bills or emotional support.
. He says: "We went to a home where a young diabetic child lives. The fridge had broken down and the family were trying to keep the insulin cool in a bucket of water and we were very quick to respond to that and it's from these events where you then see the need for food and a need for support and you help them to get food in, you help them with budgeting or give the family a tablet so they can access schoolwork. Things manifest."It's true to say that the organisation has faced its most challenging tests ever during lockdown.Shane himself, as chief executive, was helping on the frontline. He adds: "We operate from 28 different sites including Donegal and Wales. I find it important to be out on the frontline. I can't expect my staff to go into houses and take risks without doing it myself. "I also get to see what is being done, how we're helping but also understand how we can help more and I've found it exhilarating, challenging and tiring, but equally I'm really impressed with what we are doing."Just 5% of Bryson staff were furloughed, as the remainder are deemed key workers during the crisis. "The majority of that 5% were shielding," says Shane. "Our young people who we work with are also volunteering, helping us to help others and that's very admirable."On June 19, the Bryson Fund has supported 4,292 people across Northern Ireland - 988 existing service users and a further 3,304 people in communities. Of the £165,675 allocated to community level funding, Bryson has so far invested £126,662 in delivering electric, gas, oil, white goods, food and other essential items and a further £14,293 has been invested in supporting existing service users across its Family Support, Sure Start and FutureSkills services.Established in 1906, Bryson Charitable Group is one of Ireland's largest charities. In recent years it has been the leading agency for Syrian refugees and helping 30,000 people access better futures. Its work is a stark contrast to what Shane was accustomed to on the rugby pitch, but he draws parallels. Shane played a role in establishing Ulster Rugby club's financial stability and has been recognised for making it a more inclusive organisation. "There are always comparisons to make," he says. "If you want to be successful you need four key ingredients. They are a good strategy, meet the need better than anyone else, good quality people and make sure you have a good performing management system in place. "You need to make sure they're done ethically and if you get those done right then it works."I like the difference being here, but I understood from the beginning that you can't have all newcomers without any DNA or corporate memory. "Right now we are out to win the war and the next challenge is to win the peace. Once we are no longer needed to support the new emergency we will then focus on the challenge of helping our core end users to establish independence.""
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