A dynamic and determined personality Ms. Hélène Frost, Chief Executive of CURE, United Kingdom (UK), in her recent and first visit to India she was impressed with the functioning of the programme. During her short stay in the city she established meeting with various stakeholders for her holistic understanding of the programme. Having been associated with CURE UK since six years her expertise in the area of fundraising has brought enormous accolades to the programme. In a tête-à-tête with Roselin Kiro she shares about the operations of CURE UK in contributing towards fundraising for the CURE programmes in various countries.
You have a wide ranging experience in the field of medical charities, fundraising etc. How has been the journey so far working with CURE UK?
In 2011, I joined CURE UK with a vision of increasing giving in the UK and Europe. From day one I loved being part of the work of CURE, and the fact that healing children who are suffering unnecessarily from conditions that can be corrected. After six years of developing the work of CURE UK and seeing the life-changing impact this has on the lives of these children and their families, I continue to feel incredibly blessed to get to do this every day.
Tell us about the functioning of CURE UK
CURE UK has a strong and committed board headed up by our Chairman John O’Dowd, a London based Spine Surgeon. Our team consists of four people and each of us fundraise and raise awareness of CURE’s work. We do this through grants from trusts and foundations, overseas aid. We stage high-level social events and we work in partnership with the University of Oxford on orthopaedic training programmes. CURE UK has the support of the Royal family through our wonderful Royal Patron, Lady Frederick Windsor.
Fundraising is the core activity in CURE UK. How challenging it is to raise funds for the clubfoot programme operational in other countries?
Fundraising is extremely competitive and a greater part of our success is based on good relationships with our funders. Our UK funders love the work of CURE Clubfoot because it eliminates and prevents a lifetime of disability for children and their families. There is no other medical intervention that achieves this in such a non-invasive and cost-effective way.
The beauty of the CURE Clubfoot programme is that it is delivered within government hospitals, free of charge to the families. Because CURE Clubfoot provides training for healthcare professionals, it is a highly sustainable, scalable and replicable model.
Over the past two years, it has become much harder to secure funds for overseas projects. Many funding organisations argue that the need to support communities in the UK is greater than ever. Since last June this has been compounded by Brexit and further austerity measures.
How was your experience in visiting India for the first time? What do you have to say about the CURE clubfoot programme in India?
Whilst I have visited CURE Clubfoot programmes across Sub-Saharan Africa, I was slightly apprehensive at first about visiting India. But as soon as I landed in Delhi I fell in love with your country and it’s wonderful, warm and wise people. I am already planning my next trip in November.
The CURE Clubfoot Programme in India is excellent and I am greatly impressed by what I have seen. The first thing that I noticed was the fathers who arrived with their babies, they are so engaged with the treatment. This does not tend to happen elsewhere. And of course, Dr. Matthews is a legend, we are very fortunate to have him lead the programme.
Do you have any suggestions for the programme? In your opinion, what are the scope or prospects of fundraising in India for the clubfoot programme?
My advice would be to step up awareness raising through a national media strategy, so that every child born with clubfoot can easily be given clubfoot treatment in a local clinic. The people of India are generous and compassionate. They will help a child overcome the prospect of a lifetime of suffering, by donating the money that is needed for corrective treatment.
Any message you would like to convey to all those who are involved in the CURE Clubfoot programme in India?
I was very moved to find that CURE Clubfoot India is a closely knit family of wonderful professionals. What I noticed was that the CURE India team are united together by their determination to achieve a world where every child has access at birth to clubfoot treatment. This coming June, CURE Clubfoot will have treated 100,000 children with clubfoot. With numbers like this, we are getting very close to eradicating clubfoot as a lifetime disability.
Please continue your magnificent work, your investment in the CURE Clubfoot programme is paying off dividends for generations to come.