Sensing Friends AGM March 2024 Minutes

Sensing Friends AGM

Date: 23rd March 2024


Tara (Chair)











Moira (Remote)

Peter – Treasurer (Remote)





TAR (trustee annual report) – discuss the trustee AGM and what was written in the report/agreed by the trustees. This document will become publicly available so it only needs to be an overview as some things will be covered in other sections of the AGM.

set our goals for the forthcoming year.

Accounts (Peter and Penny) – updates on the funding we have recently received, what this money is intended for etc. see more on accounts below.

Groups – confirm what we currently have running and discussion/overview about our new friendly Fridays (maybe Casey could support here?)

Plot 97 (Ali and Maz) –  Will spend 10/15 minutes discussing progress at the allotment and upcoming plans including volunteers and how to get involved.




Introduction: Meeting will be led by our Chair trustee, Tara. 


TAR document – 


Summary of SF purposes as set out in our governing documents -The promotion of social inclusion for the public benefit among children and young people aged between 8 and 25 residing in London and Sussex who are socially excluded from society, or parts of society,

As a result of physical sensory loss, neurological divergence, trauma, PTSD and anxiety, relieving their needs and assisting them to integrate into society, in particular but not exclusively by providing counselling, therapy and group activities in a safe environment designed to support them and enable them to build confidence, increase self-esteem and develop social and life skills which help to increase their capacities and capabilities and maximise their potential. 


Everyone is in agreement with this. 


Summary of the main activities in relation to those purposes for the public benefit.

  • 2023 Counselling

We offered 47 young people one to one counselling and 18 young people completed a course of counselling with us, after initial assessments were carried out. The one to one support was delivered via a total of 192 hourly sessions through 2023, with each young person accessing an average of 11 sessions each with some extending into longer term counselling if required. We also worked with 16 young people who accessed a total of 15 online group peer support sessions lasting 1.5 hours and 9 in-person Circle of Friendship peer support sessions lasting 5 hours each. 5 of these young people who accessed our in-person therapeutic groups, were young refugee women who were new to Sensing Friends within the year. These young women accessed our new pilot – young woman’s emotional well-being group therapy sessions. We ran a total of 5 of these sessions, along with 1 induction session.


  • Circle Of Friendship (COF)

In 2023 The Circle Of Friendship in nature group run every month, from April to December,

with exception to August where we did not have enough team members to run safely. The group as always has been popular and an average of 5 children attended each monthly session. Two new young people joined the group in 2023. Many of the older young people who have been attending for some time continued to attend which is in line with our mission to facilitate longer term social attachments and with this provide long term opportunities

for these to grow. Naturally some other older young people also stopped attending.


Jane – Comments about it being thoroughly enjoyable. The Young people got a lot out of it, including the team.


  • Out and About 

In 2023 we continued with our popular out and about days, once a month, providing trips for the young people including visiting Stomp, Brunch and Preston Park outing, Bowling, Hove Park lunch, Picnic and gardening at our plot 97, breakfast on the seafront. The groups were well attended by the young people who have been attending for some time. It will be good to introduce new young people to these Out and About Days in 2024.


Moira – Interested in knowing how we are targeting harder to reach families about this so other children don’t want to miss out. 


Penny – Addressed the need to make this more of a focus in 2024 on approaching others outside of our referrals to let them know of the services we have on offer (schools, SENCOs etc.). Plugging on social media and our website has already started happening. 


Moira – suggestion to reach out and make calls to individual families, Family services, or SENCO departments. 


Key outcome – 

Create a further meeting to discuss how we can promote engagement from new beneficiaries at sensing friends. This is something we will set as a goal to arrange. 


Important things to discuss will be:  

  • Who finds it harder to access these services? Do we reach out to areas of deprivation – those who don’t have access to the internet etc. 
  • What are the barriers – finances, travel, don’t know us, Confidence etc
  • Who are our target ‘audience’
  • Overcoming the boundary of new people joining the established ones – potentially creating a new group for newbies


Taster sessions were suggested and it was mentioned that our new friendly Friday groups should be the first avenue for this to filter through the new young people appropriate for these groups. 


We also offer info on our groups when young people sign up for counselling wait lists – the uptake on this isn’t great. 


  • Online Groups

In 2023, due to having limited funds, as we were using up our underspend from the full project, we run the online groups only in the winter months, January to March and then October to December. The groups involved a fortnightly mix of peer support and storytelling. Both groups had fair to small attendance of between 3- 6 young people attending.


New people are coming for one or two weeks then dropping off. This is affecting the rest of the group. 


Penny has approached these young people to get feedback and the general consensus was that the barrier seems to be with new people entering an already established group. Discussions have already happened around nurturing individual relationships and meeting facilitators first before they enter the group, this seemed to help but still needed some work.

  • Thoughts on starting groups off in blocks, such as 12 weeks, so people can start on the next ‘block’ allowing them to not feel that they are now a newbie entering mid way. 
  • Young people could also create the group name. 


Idea to prioritise those on the waiting list for the next ‘term’/’block’ but this is tricky for the young people as we are trying to establish a community and longevity of connection. 

  • Idea was suggested for some of the most established young people to become mentors and this has received good responses from the young people being interested in stepping up. This has already happened with one new young person and been a successful model. But understand this may not always work for some people. Having different options, example – meet someone in a coffee shop before with a  friend, meet online etc. 


Use the friendly Friday groups as an intro to sensing friends and advertise this widely to build a community.  

  • Create a video or podcast the young people will create to be able to share online, social media websites etc and via email. Use tik tok? Age appropriate.  


  • Young Woman’s Refugee Well-being group

We run a pilot in nature young woman’s refugee group for 6 Saturdays during November and

December. All in all five young women attended the groups, two from Iran, 1 from Sudan, 1 from Turkey and another from Ukraine. The groups took place partly at our plot when the weather permitted and partly at the BMECP center. The groups were facilitated by the counselling team offering the young woman emotional well-being support through small group check ins, craft and cooking activities as well as one to one support. The young woman gave feedback on how supportive they had found the group. This group was set up as a pilot and overall we feel this has been a success. We aim to continue this well-being group through our friendly Friday groups in 2024


  • Plot 97 development

We acquired our new plot in July 23. The plot needed much work done on it however we were able to tackle this. The plot now has a fire pit, a covered sheltered area. We were

able to grow fruit and veg with the young people which they greatly enjoyed. One young person, whose passion is gardening, took on a lead role with this which greatly impacted

the confidence in a positive way. By the end of 2023 the plot was in an appropriate state to use for most of our group work. This has meant that we now don’t need to rent out other

natural space.

Ali and Maz are now looking after the plot and are providing regular updates via social media. The plan is to put the emphasis on sensory… plant textures, smells etc. Getting the young people involved in what they want to see.

Currently getting a polytunnel which will double up as a 1-1 area creating a safe space for the young people during sessions.  


Can any income be generated from the plot?

  • Penny responds, we have had an idea on ‘working Wednesday’ where everyone can come and work on the plot, to create a lunch time drop in to give a donation for lunch. We are already registered with the local authority to do this (serve food). 
  • Jane asked if we could hire the plot out to others to generate income for this. Sublet to others who use the spot as we do. We would need a key holder to be present to let people in for this, so this is something to think about. 

  • Tara confirmed that all trustees have read and signed off their acknowledgment of the details of the PB1 form. 

Summary of the main achievements of the charity, identifying the difference the charity’s work has made to the circumstances of its beneficiaries and any wider

benefits to society as a whole.


In 2023, as well as continuing with our long-standing one to one counselling support and our peer groups such as the COF and Out and About Days, which support young people with sensory needs, we successfully run our pilot young women’s well being group. 


This has opened up doors to particularly vulnerable young women who cannot access emotional support elsewhere. The young people who accessed our services have been able to explore their feelings in safe environments and this has helped their overall emotional well- being. 


Some of the young people have been dealing with very severe mental health issues, partly as a result of the aftermath of Covid and lockdown. Serious issues such as self harm and suicide attempts have come into the remit of our work with these young people. Through nurturing one to one support in counselling and group work we have been able to support these young people to work through these issues as well as reduce loneliness, isolation and feelings of low self esteem.




Financial review end of year – December 2022 – December 2023


End of 2023, we had a balance of £10,794.60

Out of which, some was underspend which may need to be returned to the big lottery. We are currently waiting to see what this amount may be. 

In the meantime, the amount of unrestricted reserves belonging to Sensing friends is just over £5000.


Total outgoings for end of 2023, £48,337.99

£26,897.99 on self employed staff

£4548.61 on rent

£3,419.39 on Equipment and Materials 

£0 on Promotion

£573.40 on insurances

£1611.90 on Consultancy fees

£67.99 on Training

£424.11 on Miscellaneous 



Our year end accounts have moved to September meaning the financial period for 2024-25 will be January 1st – September 30th.


We have also purchased some new software to help with accounts and have got a deal with quickbooks. This has been set up and will really benefit us moving forward.


January 2024 – Had not yet received funding from the big lottery, but was successful with a funding bid from the chalk cliff fund for around £2025 to continue with online groups and administration work.


February 2024 – Successful for application with the Big lottery granting us 5 years funding at around £100,000 a year. 


Current Balance – £58,686 including around £5000 of the remainder of the overspend from the big lottery from last year.


Penny discussed our reserves policy and what that means and how we can fundraise to increase this now we are a registered charity. 


Structure, Governance and Management


  • As this is our first AGM as a charity, we will not be electing or reelecting in or our trustees. 
  • In Future we will be creating an anonymous form so the members of Sensing Friends can tick all the names of trustees they are happy with to keep in, so that there is no pressure during the meeting and any issues can be raised anonymously. 


Everyone is in agreement with this future action. 


Confirmation that the members ‘Penny, Kay and Will’ will be the ones to vote in or out of the organisation. This is a point of our constitution we must abide with. 


Members will also be re-voted in. The format of this will be discussed further before the next AGM.


Confirmed the current and continued trustees are 

  • Tara (Chair)
  • Sophie
  • Peter
  • Moira



  • Is there any scope for young service users to be trustees – Yes, that has been previously discussed and something we can bring forward as an action for next year. 
  • Confirmation of new role, applicants and interviews. The person recruited for this position will be a great asset in supporting some of the actions bought away from this meeting. Specifically group and young people engagement.


Goal setting for the future 2024-2025


  • Continue with online groups (peer support and storytelling) as well as COF and out & about


  • Launch our new Friendly Friday group


  • Work on ways to promote engagement for new young people. 


  • Developing Plot 97 within Sensing Friends and growing external engagement.


  • Create some promotional materials for Sensing Friends – video of service, Leaflet, launching into new social media platforms. 


  • Recruit a young service user as an additional member and trustee


  • Offer the team further training (CPD and skills)


Everyone is in agreement with these goals.