Case Study – Smile Support

19 November 17

When the beautifully designed and state of the art Smile Centre was opened by Prince Michael of Kent in 2014, Chair of Trustees, Steven Clarke, believed it heralded a glorious new era for the charity.  Instead, it presaged decline and near collapse.


The charity fundraised raised £4.4m over four years to build the innovative centre.  Designed to provide valuable short breaks and respite care for disabled children and their families, the layout included family suites, en-suite bedrooms and recreational rooms.  Outside, garden spaces provided comfortable and congenial surroundings.

However, the apparent success of the new centre masked serious underlying problems.  Senior staff were unable to gain approval to operate from the regulator.  Consequently, the centre was not being used and
income projections did not materialise. In parallel, income from their other services was in decline. Fundraising proved more difficult after the great efforts and success over the previous years.


By February 2017 the charity was facing real difficulties.  Now without a CEO and only Steven and one other Trustee left on the board, funds were running low.  Without a major change in fortune the future looked bleak.

Steven was introduced to Gallanach Director, Norman Blissett, through a consultancy called Koreo.  Norman worked with the remaining board members and managers to develop a turnaround plan.  This would ensure Smile remained viable over the coming months. In parallel, he identified several potential merger targets and commenced negotiations.

Merger Secured

By April, the national disability charity Kids, had emerged as the preferred merger candidate. Norman led negotiations and planning on behalf of Smile and by September both charities agreed that Smile would become a subsidiary of Kids.  This secured the future of Smile’s invaluable services and will enable the Smile Centre to be fully operational by the end of 2017.

Steven says, “Norman’s pragmatism and no-nonsense approach has kept the Charity going long enough to ensure the multi-million pound asset we have, can be used for the purposes it was designed for. 

We went through some difficult times but with Norman’s insight and support we secured a merger and the future now looks much more positive.”

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Norman was commissioned to assist the Naval Families Federation as we embarked on a comprehensive review of our strategy. He is a skilled facilitator and helped us to ensure that the whole team’s input was heard and valued. His input gave us confidence in our approach and put us in a strong position to take forward work on our theory of change, and ultimately to deliver a coherent strategy to take the organisation forward.

Bridget Nicholson – Head of Strategy, Naval Families Federation