Small Charity Spotlight: Scottish Cot Death Trust

#SmallCharityWeek is a great platform for the promotion of the stellar work going on across the country by small charities. Often overlooked by the bigger fish with bigger budgets (also doing great work btw) this week allows the ‘wee yins’ a chance to showcase and show off, to share and study good practice. I hope this blog provides an example of how our small charity has tried to increase awareness, widen our reach, and overcome barriers using technology.

Our challenge? We need to talk about something nobody really wants to talk about. Oh and we’re really small too.

Our charity supports families affected by SUDI – the sudden and unexpected death of an infant. Rates of SUDI (cot death and SIDS are terms often used) have reduced significantly over the last 30 years, yet still, in Scotland an infant dies suddenly and unexpectedly every nine days. It’s rare, but we work to see it become rarer still. As well as support, we are dedicated to promoting findings from the evidence-base on how we can reduce the risks of SUDI occurring. Due to budget, size, and resource capability the need for effective, efficient, but brave decision-making is crucial – factors not alien to many small charities in the UK.

Cot death is a tricky subject. It’s a subject people don’t engage with unless they have to, which is understandable.

Using technology to spread the word

As with all small charities, we have an opportunity to embrace technology to help amplify our messages. Even though larger charities may have larger budgets in the paid media market, social media and internet in general (along with a well-crafted, targeted message) has allowed smaller charities to really compete and get noticed – raising awareness and relaying important information to those who may find it useful. Any small charity can have an online presence of some kind to help them become more accessible and engaging. In our case we felt that video content was crucial to creating awareness of our support services and education messages.

Our new support video provides a case study of how our services can benefit families who have suffered loss.

Through services such as befriending and counselling to name a few, the hopeful video helps illustrate how we can be of assistance to immediate and extended family.

Our education work has also benefited from a small investment in video content. “A Baby’s Guide to Safe Sleep” is a poem, narrated by baby explaining all the ways we can make his sleeping space as safe as possible. We hope that by using animation and rhyme to explain important messages we make the subject of safer sleep more accessible and engaging for new families and professionals in health and childcare.

These videos give us tools to use in the online world to increase awareness of our charity and to provide important information. They allow us to add interest to our owned online spaces making them more engaging and ultimately shareable. Additionally with well-crafted content, videos or otherwise give small charities potentially newsworthy content for the media both on and offline.

This approach isn’t new, nor was it free. But it will hopefully be a worthwhile investment to continue the conversation in this vital area helping families and professionals engage with such an important topic.

To finish, I’m sure the events held during SmallCharityWeek may help others gain the skills and funds to introduce new ideas like video, be it via #BigAdviceDay or #FundraisingDay. Sometimes it’s a simple, brave move that makes an impact online and helps with the work you do.

Keep up the great work!

Martin Courtney is the National Education Coordinator for the Scottish Cot Death Trust.  His main remit is the development and delivery the charity’s education strategy. This includes ‘safe sleep’ education session for professional audiences and the general public, and the development of www.safesleepscotland.org, the charity’s new education hub.

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