May 2020 Letter to Carmel Friends

10 May 2020

Dear Carmel guests

I hope that this letter finds you well and healthy at this challenging time. I wanted to bring you up to speed on developments at Carmel since my letter of 22 March. Much has changed since writing then to inform you of our decision to temporarily suspend operations at Carmel. Days later, the SA government announced the lockdown, which is now a new normal for all of us in South Africa and in many parts of the world. As you recall, we have suspended operations at Carmel and temporarily suspended our staff, retaining only a very small skeleton staff complement, working only a few hours a week, on a remote basis.

Carmel staff

The wellbeing of our staff has been the biggest concern for us over this time. When our reservations were cancelled our revenue dried up overnight, leaving us with insufficient resources to pay staff salaries. I reached out in the previous letter, asking for any financial help to support our staff who will otherwise be relying on UIF payments only during this time. Thank you very much to the many responses to this appeal. To date we have received a total of R55 000, ranging from several donations of hundreds of Rands to one substantial amount of R 15 000. This has enabled us to pay staff the full amount owing to them for March and a donation of R400 to each staff member for April.

We are relying heavily on UIF payments to be made to our staff from April onwards but the UIF system seems to be under significant pressure, and despite exhausting ongoing emails, calls and multiple repeat applications by our Director, Bev, only 3 of our 27 staff members have received a UIF payout to date. It’s quite baffling as to what the reason is, and Bev follows up daily with several contacts in the Dept. of Labour to secure the payments for all staff.

We have also applied for several Covid-related support payments as well as debt relief through our bankers. However, the bank application has not been forthcoming, the TERS application (Temporary Employee Relief Scheme) for staff grants is still underway, and our small business Covid application has been declined.

Suppliers and guests

While staff are our most pressing concern, we are also acutely aware of outstanding payments to suppliers. Our suppliers are a crucial part of Carmel’s business and we have longstanding relationships with many of them. They too are taking massive strain as the hospitality industry that they service suffers so severely with Covid. We are in discussion with all of them about cash flow, recognising our need to prioritise payments to staff.

Several guests (individuals and conference groups) have paid deposits for bookings. We are encouraging all those whose bookings are affected by the State of Disaster to please reschedule for after lockdown.

We are currently putting plans in place to open up whatever revenue streams we can during the lockdown period, while at the same time identifying what will need to be done to be ready to open up guesthouse operations in time. Like all of South African business, that timeframe is not within our control and we continue to watch the unfolding regulations regarding lockdown levels.

Insurance claim

There is one potential area of income that we are pursuing, and that is a claim on our insurance policy. We are insured for business interruption due to an infectious disease and are currently in a claim process, which is being driven by one of our Trustees, Brian Edwards. It appears that we should be due a pay-out but as, is often the case, these matters are not clear cut, and Brian is in discussion with our brokers and insurer to try to expedite this. Please will you pray for this – this could be a significant blessing at this very difficult time. We have fresh vision and exciting plans for Carmel and had started to put these in place just as Covid hit. Financial relief in the form of an insurance pay-out would put us on the path to financial stability again.

Celebrating Carmel’s legacy: 66 years

This month we are celebrating Carmel’s 66th birthday. 66 amazing years of God touching the lives of many people who have come to Carmel. Have you been following our Facebook and Instagram pages? If so you will probably have seen the special stories of Carmel’s ministry impacting the lives of many who have shared with us. What is your Carmel story? Please will you share your memories and your photographs to enrich this experience, and so that we can be inspired and encouraged together. Carmel’s ministry has been through tough times before but God has a plan and a future for this special place. We trust in Him to see His future unfold.

Supporting the ongoing ministry of Carmel

As before, we earnestly appeal to you to support our Carmel ministry over this time, with any level financial contribution that you are able. If you would like your donation to go specifically to staff, please identify it as such.

Thank you very sincerely! Donations can be made to the following account:

• Standard Bank
• George branch, code 000214
• Savings Account number: 35537736

Please keep in touch with us – via the Carmel telephone, email, Facebook, or Instagram.

We look forward to hearing from you!

With thanks,

 

 

Paula Buchel
Chairman: Carmel Evangelical Trust