MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF GAMBIA EDUCATION AND TEACHING SUPPORT
HELD AT 2pm ON SATURDAY 30th AUGUST 2014 AT MARTIN HEATH HALL, LICHFIELD, STAFFORDSHIRE.
Introduction by the Chairman:
All those attending were welcomed by Chairman Tony Nelson and thanked for coming. Particular thanks were given to Steve & Chris Humphries for organizing such an excellent venue, to Julie Limbrick and her army of helpers for the wonderful lunch and to all who have worked hard to make not only the AGM but the continuing work of GETS possible. He also gave special mention to Ina Bakker for the splendid article she wrote for the Banbury Guardian.
Election of Officers:
Nominations had been received for Tony Nelson
Proposed by Erica Wren, Seconded by Dawn Webster and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Paul Webster
Proposed by Tony Bound, Seconded by Felicity Schofield and CARRIED
Nominations had been received for Sue Nelson
Proposed by Ian Ward-Dutton, Seconded by Julie Limbrick and CARRIED
Elections to the Executive Committee:
Nominations had been received for Maxine Beech, Dawn Webster and Helen Touray.
Proposed and Seconded en bloc by Tony Bound and Erica Wren and CARRIED.
Adoption of Trustee Annual Report
This was circulated and presented by Tony Nelson. In it he summarized the main achievements of the charity in the past year including the completion and furnishing of the Lower Basic classrooms. Thanks were given to Dawn and Paul Webster for gathering together all the necessary furniture and overseeing its dispatch via container to The Gambia. The third class is all ready to go with a new teacher and a second Teaching Assistant appointed. The Skills Training students have completed their work experience and the majority of them have found employment as a result. Two of them will be employed at Sunrise Centre. Applications for funding from various sources have been put in and one has been successful with the final amount granted as yet unknown. The money raised will allow building work for an additional Nursery classroom to commence as well as expansion of the smallest current classroom. More money will be needed for completion of these projects.
Regular donations continue to be the lifeblood of the charity but we have also had some generous gifts from individuals and from events organized by schools and by Driffield Air Cadets. The number of sponsorships increased from 70 to 89 over the course of the year and we have introduced locally led means testing to ensure the money goes to the most deserving children. Sponsor-a-Class has been a successful initiative raising £576 this year. The donation from the Air Cadets has been used to create an outdoor sports floor for football, volleyball and other games. Plans to build a playground for the younger children are fully funded and under way.
Much of the work at Sunrise has been aided by the many volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise, both in The Gambia and from the UK. For this, many thanks are due.
Accounts for the year 2013/2014:
These have been prepared and circulated by Treasurer, Paul Webster who gave a brief presentation of the main points. The accounts have been examined and endorsed by David Green (Independent Examiner - Haines Watts Wales) who will also sign them once they have been approved at this meeting. Accounts approved
In summary we hold bank balances in the UK and The Gambia of approximately £42,000, £12,000 of which relates to sponsorship in both Sunrise and other schools and will be paid out in the coming academic year. These funds should be sufficient to cover our outgoings for the next year, but planned buildings work will require extra funding to be sourced. A proposed budget and cash-flow have been prepared for the coming year and this will be monitored closely and adjusted according to changing needs
We have total of 89 sponsors, 33 at Sunrise and 56 elsewhere. Seven previously sponsored students have now graduated. We manage all external sponsorships, check attendance and monitor progress reports. The biggest difference between Sunrise sponsorships and external ones is cost, which varies greatly. Grade 9 at a Government Upper Basic costs £77 per year, Grade 11 at a Private School can be up to £503 per year. Sunrise fees are subsidised. Parents pay only £3-£4 per month for non-sponsored students. GETS sponsors pay £10 a month, which is nearer the full cost of educating a child at Sunrise, approximately £13 a month. When a Sunrise student needs a sponsor we feature them on our website. Most sponsors come about through visits to the school. We have had 100% success with gaining sponsors for needy students this year. Our screening process is now rigorous, including compound visits for means testing. There has to be a minimum level of attendance and academic progress before such visits are made by a local community representative.
External students come in and receive a cheque made payable to their school and a receipt brought back. No school money is handled by the child or their parents. All incomings and outgoings are recorded with each child having an account. Some have their travel costs and breakfast paid for as well. Helen is always at hand to advise on this and the cash is given to the parents or guardians, not the children. The students’ success is reflected in attendance and reports. Cash gifts may be sent for individual sponsored students and we encourage this rather than sending physical presents as a) we can get gift aid on this and b) transport of presents can be a problem for those travelling. For every £1 we receive we give at least 95p to the children or schools.
We also run a Hardship Fund which may be activated in the case of the death or serious illness of a parent or breadwinner or cessation of a sponsorship. This can be granted for up to a year whilst new sponsorship is sought. This fund is ring-fenced.
Many of our long-term supporters have standing orders, made out not to an individual child, but to the school itself. These are a vital source of income as part of our overall budget.
This is a recent initiative being run by Maxine Beech who gave a brief presentation. Over the year we gained 21 new class sponsors, generating over £2,000 per year. Maxine ran a stall at the Chester Food Fair, which was a tremendous success, bringing in four new sponsors on the day and nine more from leaflets taken home. For an outlay (on banners and leaflets) of £198 it generated £1440 of income – a 630% return on investment! Another event was the Nantwich food fair. More such events are planned for the future.
Some schools classes are using the Sponsor a Class scheme – rather like a twinning association. Sponsor-a-Class now has its own website. Donations to Sponsor-a-Class may be given to someone in the form of a unique gift for those who have everything to help those who have nothing.
A range of materials including leaflets and information packs are available. Each person or class sponsoring a class gets an update every term and access to educational materials relevant to age range. These include information on such items as local food, dress and language, geography and wildlife as well as photographs of the classes and individual students and staff members.
A weekly blog is produced and featured on our website. Dawn is responsible for the upkeep of the website and the blog is generated usually by Tony with photographs taken by himself, by visitors and by staff in The Gambia. These photographs also appear on our Facebook page, which has proved increasingly popular and is administered by Maxine. We also have a Twitter account maintained by Felicity Schofield. On top of all these we also have our quarterly newsletter, which goes out to all our supporters. Many thanks to all for their help in getting and keeping our public profile high.
Helen gave a presentation on the latest news from Sunrise. Several new staff members have joined Sunrise this year, not least Madame Kaddy Fofana, our new education director. Also joining us were Alimatou Jammeh, Sally Ceesay, Yandeh Gomez, Sainabou Bojang and Gibbi Ceesay. One very sad departure was the death last September of Mrs Joanna Mendy – she is much missed.
Various school outings were undertaken – to MyFarm, the beach and to a local museum. There was a fiercely contested sports day competing against the school at London Corner. Our new sports surface came into its own.
Our top year of Skills Training students graduated, with a high proportion finding employment. Also graduating (BSC in Economics) was our Skills English and Maths teacher Mr Ali Bah.
We had many visitors and lots of help as ever from volunteers new and old (but forever young). These included Angela Longoni-Sarr, Christopher Hill, Steve and Chris Humphries and Rudy and Yolanda Nachtegaal amongst others. We are so grateful for the support of all who give freely of their time and money.
Phases 1 & 2 of the Lower Basic School are now complete. New plans have been drawn up for a Nursery Reception class and an expansion of our smallest Nursery classroom as well as a playground for the younger children
Vote of thanksThis was given by Barry Young on behalf of all supporters to thanks the Trustees for their hard work throughout the year and for another successful AGM. The meeting closed at 4.45pm.