Annual General Meeting – 2021 Trustees Report
for the Financial Year ended 31 December 2020
The Goan Welfare Society (GWS) was founded in March 1983, to provide limited assistance to the community living in the UK. The original Trustees passed away and responsibility for the Charity was handed over to the Goan Association (UK) in October 2004. However, as required by the Charity Commission, GWS operates as an autonomous body with its own membership and raising its own funds. The present Trustees are: Paul De Mendonça, Norma Menezes-Rahim, Alfred Rebello, Rosy De Souza and Flavio Gracias (Chair).
The objectives of the Charity have not changed since its inception and the Trustees continue to maintain the commitment to assist persons of Goan origin, who are in need of help and who are resident in the UK or elsewhere. In addition to the Trustees, four Committee members provide administrative support. All office-bearers serve in a voluntary capacity. The Board of Trustees meet once a year to review the performance of the Charity, but day-to-day decisions are effected via emails.
FUND-RAISING & FINANCIAL REVIEW
This annual report covers the Financial Year 2020, which runs from January to December, the period under review. Our fund-raising activities were curtailed and were at a low ebb throughout the year as a result of the raging Covid-19 pandemic. Although successful in terms of publicity, no fund-raising activities were possible and we relied on donations from members of the community. Income from all sources totalled £25,4981.00 in 2020.
The Planned-Giving Scheme again showed an encouraging improvement in 2020 and the current annual income from this source is £1,242.00 (2019: £1,097.00). We really would like to make a plea to our members to join this scheme. We would like to request members of the Goan Community to consider nominating the GWS in their Wills.
The Trustees have examined the major strategic, business and operational risks, which the charity faces, and confirm that adequate operational, legal, and financial systems are in place to enable regular reports to be produced so that necessary steps can be taken to minimise these risks.
The Charity continues to enjoy a strong balance sheet with liquid assets held in bank Accounts with HSBC Bank. The Trustees are the custodians of all assets held by the Charity. A large part of this asset, surplus to our requirements, is held in a Deposit Account. This action gives the funds added security and also accrues a small level of interest.
Despite our strong financial position, our fund-raising activities will continue unabated in order to be able to service our charitable activities.
We would like to convey our sincere appreciation to all our donors who have responded to our various appeals for funds towards the various projects, during the past twelve months.
ACHIEVEMENT & PERFORMANCE
To say that 2020 was a tragic year would be an understatement, as the pandemic took a heavy toll on the community in the UK. The number of deaths from March 2020, that we are aware of, exceeded sixty and GWS played a leading role in helping many of the bereaved families with the registration of the deaths and funeral arrangements. Where immediate relatives were not resident in the UK, the Chair of GWS registered the deaths at the request of the families, and made arrangements for the cremations of the remains. We negotiated a competitive price for burials & cremations with a firm of local Funeral Directors and worked closely with them. We were also in touch with local parish priests and helped families to successfully apply for funeral grants from Caritas UK, a leading Catholic Charity in the UK.
Regrettably, repatriations of deceased Goans to their families in Goa were suspended until September 2020 and after they resumed, the Indian Government would not permit repatriations of the deceased who passed away from Covid-19. Since September 2020, repatriations have resumed, though none were done between September 2020 and December 2020. The repatriations are being done through Southall Funeral Directors. The cost of freight has increased but we have renegotiated a fixed price of £2,750.00 for this service. Although helping bereaved families continues to be an important part of our work, we are providing increasing support to families with social and medical issues.
We are most grateful to the Goan Chaplains in London & Swindon and also to Fr Gerard, the Parish Priest at St Anselm’s R C Church in Southall for their tremendous support in more ways than one.
The pandemic ravaged Goa in April 2021 and placed tremendous pressure on the health facilities there. We appealed for financial contributions from our members & supporters to help our motherland, which brought in £1,200.00. These donations together with £5,000.00 from our own resources were transferred to the Archdiocese of Goa’s special foreign contributions bank account on 18 June 2021. Fr Noel D’Costa, the Financial Administrator has acknowledged our contribution, of £6,200.
- Membership & Planned Giving
Our membership at the time of writing this report is 188 and our objective is to increase this number by at least 20% per year. Concurrently, our aim is also to double the number of donors in our Planned-Giving scheme so that our income from this source achieves at least £2,000 / year.
- Raising awareness
Although awareness of the Charity is increasing, we will continue publicizing our new website for this purpose. Unfortunately, the Goan Festival was not held in 2020 and it is unlikely that this mammoth event will be held in 2021.
- Building Relationships
We continue to have excellent relationships with the Indian High Commission, the Portuguese Consulate and other Goan Organisations and we will endeavour to maintain this state of affairs in order that we can better serve members of the Community in these very trying times.
Our thanks to Rohan of Renard Design for his help in keeping our website updated free-of-charge and to Carringtons Limited, our Accountants, for their invaluable advice & guidance on financial matters and for producing our Annual Accounts in line with the provisions of the Charity Commission.
FLAVIO GRACIAS Chair of Trustees
Registered address: GOAN WELFARE SOCIETY, “The Firs”, 17 Firs Drive, Cranford, Middlesex, TW5 9TA