The past year has presented challenges to many third sector bodies as the restrictions on public sector funding begin to impact on the availability of grants and contracts from government departments. FAST has in previous years depended on a range of government contracts and grants, supplemented by contracts for services and participation in research and development activity. A goal set by the Trust Board over the past five years has been for FAST to seek a diverse range of income sources and to increase our level of reserves. The aim of this strategy is to ensure FAST has a robust financial base to allow the organisation to survive during periods of restricted availability of funding.
Therefore it is reassuring to note that, despite increasing the number of full-time staff just prior to the start of the financial year, FAST has pretty much maintained the level of reserves over the year, finishing the year with a reserves level of £75,059 compared to a figure of £76,700 brought forward into the year. This level approximates to five and a half months’ running costs. The breadth of income sources has also increased. Much of the activity over the year has been focused on seeking new sources of income through applications to a range of charitable funding bodies and submission of funding proposals to major research funding organisations. Considerable resources and energy was spent on this activity over the year and the outcome has been the securing of one relatively large contract for work on the European Union-funding i2Web project focused on web-accessibility and participation in a number of UK research projects in the area of telecare and telehealth.
The Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) has also extended the contract with FAST to act as project monitor for a new round of projects and FAST has been invited to act as reviewer and evaluator for some of the other programmes funded by major research organisations. Alongside unfunded work in many of the professional and sector research and standards bodies, this activity enables FAST to understand the innovation and research context. FAST brings to this work an independent perspective, representing the interests and views of disabled and older people, with a primary focus on supporting projects to present well-designed assistive technology onto the market, rapidly and at as low a cost as possible.
FAST continues to deliver the Annual Report to Parliament which documents the research and development activity funded by the UK government. As the cornerstone of FAST’s financial security the team delivering the publication are constantly seeking ways to improve the report and maximise the benefit of this information-gathering activity for the sector. FAST is grateful to the Department of Health for their continued support.
While the coming year is likely to present a number of challenges in terms of income generation, we look forward to a stimulating year working with partners across the sector to ensure disabled and older users of assistive technology can access the latest innovative products and services that enable them to remain independent.
Keren Down MBE
A society where people are able to easily get hold of assistive technology (AT), at a reasonable cost, which is a pleasure to use and employs state of the art design and materials.
FAST is currently participating in the HealthHub project and the DAP Connect projects, both funded by the Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB’s) Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) working with a range of national level organisations. FAST’s participation in these projects is aimed at ensuring maximum practical benefit to disabled and older people in the form of the market delivery of effective and appealing AT services. FAST has also led work with partners to develop guidance on the incorporation of digital services in a Lifetime Homes framework to support good practice. In this way FAST aims to use our limited resources to maximum impact through the imbedding of good practice in national standards. Through participation in the EU-funded i2Web project which is looking at accessibility standards for Web 2.0 applications, FAST also hopes to support European-wide good practice on digital inclusion.
The contract for FAST’s Director to work as a project monitor on behalf of ALIP, has been extended to a new round of projects. These projects are looking at the Economic and Business modelling of telecare and telehealth services. The ALIP programme aims to establish the market intelligence that will inform proposals to implement innovative telecare and telehealth services at scale in the forthcoming ALIP programme, DALLAS. This work not only helps to support projects to meet the needs of disabled and older people, but extends FAST’s knowledge of the sector and of opportunities to participate in initiatives to influence future service delivery.
FAST provides free information to the public about research and development activity in the area of assistive technology and this information is summarised in the annual report to Parliament. FAST also provides free information for the sector on funding opportunities, jobs and events. FAST’s free monthly e-bulletin on research and development activity, launched in 2009, has been welcomed by the sector and the numbers of subscribers has risen from the original 364 to 575 at April 2011. The bulletin provides information on the latest outcomes from projects, funding opportunities and jobs and events in the field.
A significant level of work was undertaken over the past year to apply for funding so that FAST can develop a user-participation programme. Work begun in November on the i2Web programme has led to the engagement of disabled and older people by FAST in web testing and the aim is that this activity will form the basis of further engagement work with users in future.
Over the past year FAST participated in the Information Alliance led by the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) with partners Ricability and Assist UK. The aim of this initiative is to increase the availability of high quality information about assistive technology to the public with the aim that this will support people to get hold of technology through statutory services and private purchase. Over the past year FAST led on the drafting of the 3rd year report that sets out the learning from the project and will participate in the presentation of project outcomes in a workshop in June 2011.
Work concluded in March 2011 on the development of a self care course aimed at supporting older people to ‘Choose and use equipment for active aging’ after three year’s funding from the Department of Health. Work over the past year focused on linking with partner organisations such as the WRVS to develop and trial a half day training course with different groups, including older people, volunteers and service providers. A finding from this work was that the materials had to be made relevant to the local context. The course materials were adapted to enable delivery by non-experts and have been made freely available online to enable wide-spread adoption.
Charity Number: 1061636
Company Number: 3331184 (England and Wales)
Principal Address: 31 Scarborough Street
London E1 8DR
Download the Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11 (Word format 358 kb)