The announcement by the UK Government to cut its international aid budget is something that many people may believe relates to emergency aid and humanitarian relief. However, the impact is much closer to home as Cecily’s Fund was informed that the 3-year grant secured from UKAID for our pioneering ‘Empowering Deaf Youth through Peer Health Education’ disability programme has been withdrawn just at the point of implementation. This means that nearly 5000 disadvantaged children many of whom have a disability, will not be able to benefit from gaining essential life skills and information on how to stay safe from HIV and Covid19. It also means that discrimination and stigma will continue and they may have little or no opportunity to progress in life.
A great deal of background work takes place from the initial programme design through to thorough due diligence in the UK and Zambia, and then implementation. The inception period before activities begin on the ground is a crucial and necessary step to ensure that the programme outcomes and anticipated impact is not only effective, and results in the positive changes we seek in people’s lives, but also that the intervention is value for money, and is sustained. During the first national lockdown in 2020, Cecily’s Fund managed to navigate its way through the precarious uncertainty of the Coronavirus Pandemic. We continued to work hard to support those in greatest need and most vulnerable to Covid19. Whilst we made programme adaptions to be able to continue with our work, we also spent a great deal of time planning the implementation of the UKAID funded programme that was to train deaf and hard of hearing youth to be Peer Educators using sign language. We are now experiencing the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic in different ways, and funding cuts is just one example of the many hurdles we will need to face as life begins to return to a form of normality. Fortunately, Cecily’s Fund is resilient and has overcome setbacks in the past, and we will do our level best to reinstate this programme when we are able.