We started the UK-based charity Tallinding Children’s Health Centre (TCHC) in 2011. The charity was formally recognised by HMRC from March 2015 when we gained an HMRC reference number so donations could qualify for GiftAid. From that moment, every £  donated by a UK tax payer gained an extra 25 pence in matched funding.

Our TCHC five-year project involved supporting the work of the Tallinding Children’s Health Centre between 2013 and 2018. This project culminated in a five year review with extremely positive outcomes from a clinical, financial and operational perspective. The local Council took over the management of the Centre and this has enabled the Trustees to re-direct the Charity from its solid foundation to a broader focus on future projects such as The Bendon Bursary and other causes operating in The Gambia – see the Chair’s update below.

Chair’s Six month Report December 2018 – May 2019

In my January report, written on the return from a visit to The Gambia, I wrote about the Five-Year Review of the TCHCharity which encapsulated financial and clinical practices and organisational management of the Tallinding Health Centre. The results of the review were extremely positive and Trustees looked to the future with a great deal of optimism and confidence in the internal management, staffing and care provided to patients. The review of clinical practice was conducted by an independent and experienced senior nurse practitioner, Clare Westwood, and both staff at TCHC and Trustees thanked Clare for the in-depth report (available on the website) and the insights, recommendations and support she contributed during her week in The Gambia. We were also delighted to note the progress made by the two practitioners, the first two beneficiaries of the Bendon Bursary – Chernor Jallow and Lamin Njie – who are both in regular contact with Clare and the Trustees.

The one aspect of the Centre that we had expressed concerns about for a number of years was the lack of community involvement which we pointed out jeapordised the sustainability of the Centre. To this end our major priority has been to work to support infrastructural developments; the Five-Year Review demonstrated the success of this approach. However, without a stable and committed community-based Board of Governors we were of the view that the Centre remained vulnerable.

In November 2018 a new Ward Councillor took the decision to appoint a new manager to take over the Centre. As it happened, the Trustees were present in the country at the time but after a series of meetings the Trustees took the decision to leave TCHC to establish itself as a clinical centre managed, financed and supported by the local community under the control of the Council. This was always the intention of the TCHCharity i.e. to underpin the Centre with support funding until such time the local community was ready to take it on. We understand that there have been some initial financial management issues which have impacted on staff salaries but we remain optimistic that with more experience and realistic funding the Centre will stabilise to the benefit of the Tallinding community. We wish them well and will follow developments. The Trustees would however, wish to extend our thanks to Sheikh Tijan Touray (TJ) the former manager of TCHC during the five years we were involved in the Centre. We initially got involved because of TJ who proved to be a supportive manager, respected by staff and unstinting in his hard work and dedication to the Centre in increasingly challenging circumstances. We wish TJ well in his future endeavours.

Consequently, the Trustees have taken the decision to concentrate funding on the Bendon Bursary and support the medical professional development of individuals through the scheme. We are extremely grateful to ST John the Baptist church in Ilford and its administrator Marion Dempsey who continue to support TCHCharity who have played an invaluable role in establishing the success of the Charity.

After five years as a charity, we have learnt a lot and are now in the process of planning our next five years. We have revisited our constitution originally written in 2013 and ratified by HMRC in April 2015 and have made the necessary changes to reflect our slightly altered aims and remit – especially the changed title of our Charity, aidgambia The Community Health Charity (ratified by HMRC in February 2019). This enables us to keep the same initials and brand, continue with the Bendon Bursary and its support of individual medical staff at the Centre; it will also encourage us to explore how we can support other community health activity in The Gambia that we know would benefit from an input of funds.

The agenda of our May TCHC meeting will focus on plans for our next five years. The trustees remain very positive and energised about future developments aimed at supporting clinical practice and patient care in The Gambia and as always we are extremely grateful for the support the Charity receives from donors, organisations, associates and friends.