Hijinx

“After five years of working obsessively on expanding and growing the charity, I was on the verge of a breakdown.”

Wales

Charity location

£75,000

Grant size

3 years

Funding period

Our partnership

Clare Williams is the Chief Executive of Hijinx, a Cardiff-based charity that wants to “make it commonplace to see actors with learning disabilities and autism on our stages and screens.” She describes her role as “pursuing opportunities that will ensure an actor with a learning disability wins an Oscar by 2030”.

In 2018, we awarded Hijinx over three years to deliver a training and job creation programme for actors with learning disabilities. Hijinx is one of 367 charities that received our developmental support alongside their grant in 2018; support that Clare describes as “utterly lifechanging.” She says:

“Hijinx is my life – I live and breathe it. But after five years of working obsessively on expanding and growing the charity, I was on the verge of a breakdown. In May 2018, I realised it was completely and utterly unsustainable to continue in this way and that’s when our Lloyds Bank Foundation Grant Manager Mike Lewis stepped in.

“Mike invited me to meet Deri Llewellyn-Davies, a fantastic business strategist who made me realise that my 67-page business plan needed to go straight in the bin. He told me I should try to write a business plan on a page. So I took the largest piece of paper I could find. When I still couldn’t do it, I realised Hijinx had become too big for me to manage single-handedly. By October 2018, I had decided to carve up Hijinx into five workstreams, each with their own strategy and plans, each part of the whole. I have a brilliant, determined and talented team and I gave responsibility for each area to a different person.

“I had previously been lucky enough to go on a six-month School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) course funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation, which was absolutely transformative. It was an opportunity to re-assess what we were doing and see how we could generate more income, raise our profile and make our organisation more resilient and I could also look at how to become a better leader and a more effective manager. So when the time came for me to take some of the weight off my own shoulders, I had the knowledge to pass on – and what I learnt from Deri helped me plan how to do that.

“Lloyds Bank Foundation funded some of my investment in staff training around PR, fundraising, finance, HR and monitoring and evaluation. As a result, I now have 16 brilliant leaders who are excited to be running Hijinx. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders and I feel miles away from the overstressed, overworked Chief Executive I was a few months ago. For example, I used to do 100% of the fundraising by myself; now each strand is responsible for their own area and I bring it all together. No one has to carry the burden of sole responsibility any more.

“Deri, the SSE course and Mike’s ongoing support jointly gave me the courage to be hugely ambitious for the organisation. Before Lloyds Bank Foundation started supporting Hijinx, we had four staff members, worked with seven actors and had a turnover of £250,000; now we have 16 staff, 70 actors in fulltime training and a turnover reaching almost £1 million, not to mention exciting plans for growth across Wales and even international programmes in the pipeline. Most importantly, we know our success is sustainable thanks to the developmental support from Lloyds Bank Foundation that supported me and strengthened Hijinx.”

Before Lloyds Bank Foundation started supporting Hijinx, we had four staff members, worked with seven actors and had a turnover of £250,000; now we have 16 staff, 70 actors in fulltime training and a turnover reaching almost £1 million.

Clare Williams, Chief Executive, Hijinx

What do we mean by learning disabilities?

We have adopted Mencap’s definition of learning disability: “A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.” People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complicated information and interact with other people.

Our Impact on Learning Disabilities in 2018

4

new grants to charities helping people with learning disabilities

158

of our charity partners support people with learning disabilities to improve their independence and wellbeing

2.3

years is the average length of our grants for Learning Disability charities

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