CLEFT becomes national What has changed? First of all, we are still CLEFT - Bridging the Gap. What changes is our UK registered charity number which is now 1194581 and in legal terms, we will now be working as a CIO - a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Alongside the change to our status as a CIO, we have also expanded our charitable objects. Whereas before we were linked to the North Thames cleft team, our research will now be open to all the cleft teams in the UK. We would also like to support more centres in lower and middle income countries. CLEFT's ethos has not changed at all. We are truly committed to providing long-term, sustainable ways to improving cleft care. Why was the change necessary? The change to become a CIO was the right path to take as we expanded. Whilst it won't change how we function on a day-to-day basis, it gives the board of trustees security in knowing we are set up in the correct way to deal with increased commitments that will arise from our wider geographical reach. All charities, including CIO's, are closely regulated by the Charity Commission and we will still be accountable in exactly the same way as before. What we have also done is to invite new trustees to the board, to reflect the geographical expansion. Additionally, we have two new steering committees for each of the research and international arms. And finally, we have a new Fundraising Committee to help support and build on our fundraising activities. Board of Trustees Research Steering Committee International Steering Committee How will all these changes help children with cleft lip and palate? Firstly, by investing in more research. We hope one day to have the answers to why cleft lip and palate occur and how we can prevent them from happening, but we need to spend more time, money and expertise to achieve this. By increasing our circle of clinicians and cleft professionals, we hope to make greater headway into answering the many unanswered questions around clefts. We also hope to expand our work internationally by visiting new lower and middle income countries. We will only go when we are invited to do so with the aim of helping them build a sustainable infrastructure for the future. How did you celebrate the launch? We wanted to celebrate the start of the next chapter for CLEFT and we thought there would be no better way than by sharing some of the experiences and thoughts of some of the CLEFT team. Each video and podcast was posted on social media as well as on the CLEFT website and they are well worth watching. In keeping with our aim to spend as much of our funds on our charitable objects, we managed to achieve our entire programme without spending anything, thanks to the contributors giving up their time so willingly. In the first of our videos, Mr Brian Sommerlad, Chair of CLEFT, gives a brief summary of the history of CLEFT before explaining in a little more detail what the changes to CLEFT are all about. How can I get involved? We would love you to get involved! Here are some of the ways: Find us on social media then like and share our posts. Spreading the word of what we do is one of the easiest and most effective ways of supporting us. You can donate - small or large, we are grateful for all donations we receive. You could volunteer with us - we are currently looking for two new members to join our Fundraising Committee so if you feel you have something you could offer here, we would really love to hear from you. If you would like to volunteer in any other way, please let us know how you think you can help. Sign up to our newsletter - we send them out monthly but it is a great way for you to stay in touch.