Adapting our support during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us at The Rugby Portobello Trust to think creatively about new ways to stay connected and support the people we work with, particularly in what has been a difficult time for people’s mental health and wellbeing. We have risen to the challenge, re-designing our services and learning a great deal in the process.

We redesigned our Homework Club as the Virtual Classroom, with tutoring taking the place of homework support; we’ve been running online creative skills-building sessions for our young people; we’ve done twice weekly emergency food deliveries to our most vulnerable families; we’ve supported families to get emergency supplies such as baby wipes, nappies and even a mattress; we’ve supported local mums through online wellbeing sessions; we ran a four-week Play Centre that supported 95 children; we’ve delivered an online Community Leadership course; and we’ve been running on-line mental health one-to-one and small group sessions for some of the most at-risk boys in our community.

Once we were given the all clear to resume in-house programmes, we completed new risk assessments and adapted our delivery to comply with COVID-Safe procedures. This has allowed us to deliver daily music production sessions and weekly music and mentoring sessions. We’re adding new programmes in a safe and measured approach, looking forward to welcoming back even more children, young people and mums in September.

As well as challenges to service delivery, the pandemic has brought challenges to our funding. We’re more than 85% funded through donations, grants and events, with our events alone raising 50% of our income each year. We took the difficult decision to cancel all in-person events for the safety and welfare of all of those involved, and our three main fundraising events have been redesigned to be delivered online.

We’ve focused on diversifying our funding, but we’re not alone in this approach, and have found that many trusts and foundations are equally stretched, receiving far more requests for support than ever before.

We expect the overall impact on our income to be about 20%, and have therefore redesigned and consolidated services to reduce costs while minimising the effect this restructuring would have on those we support. We furloughed staff where possible and are continuing to look at new sources of funding to allow us to resume our normal offering as quickly as possible.

None of this would be possible without the commitment and support of our more than 200 volunteers and thousands of supporters who have got behind our programmes and campaigns and helped up to weather what has been a few very challenging months. Thank you to everyone who has given their support – we absolutely couldn’t do it without you.

Click through our Recent News stories to read more about how we've adapted each programme and what lies ahead.

Homework Club / Virtual Classroom update

Football Academy update

Summer Play Centre update

Man Cave update

Youth Club update

Amplify Studios creative arts programme update

Magic Mums update 

Fundraising update



24th August 2020