2022 Q3 Look-back: Project Disco


Once Beyoncé drops a disco album the only thing to do is follow her lead.

So here's a track-by-track breakdown from Renaissance of what's been happening at Carefree this quarter 👇


Yes, we also turned 5, though it feels more like dog years to me! And while some reading this may not know these two humble beings, James and Charlie Ricketts pictured with me above are where it all began.

I do dream of the chance to write a book about why we need more charity tech start-ups like ours and how to build them, but for now, I'd like to focus on who and what has made the biggest difference to our success and what would be game-changing for Carefree.

Who and what has made the difference?

Vision alignment

To me, the ability to iterate and pivot is a major part of your toolkit for great service design, but it has to be anchored in a crystal clear understanding of who you are, why you're doing it and where you want your organisation to go. The goals that we set for the charity originally have barely changed, and our core business values run through all our decision-making. It might seem like a floaty place to start, but it's the steel of our integrity that's drawn so many people and organisations to be part of what we're doing.

Charlie, James, Peter, Joey, Sarine, Michele and Alex Mecklenburg - I certainly found my tribe with you.

Straight-forward backing

We've had a completely upside-down funding journey. Having gotten started through venture philanthropy and unrestricted grants, we've descended into the fight for tiny pots of project funding that we never seem to win. Meaningful money invested into a great idea and talented team will yield real social innovation and scalable impact. Without it, we will lose what beaming lights the charity sector has.

Deep thanks here to The Swire Charitable Trusts, Baillie Gifford, Crystal Amber Advisers, Paul Hodges, Andrew Tinkler, Anthony Bolton and Charlie Ricketts who gave us that start.

Quality counts

Doing things well from the outset builds sustainability for the future. Our chair knew that when she sent me back 182 corrections on our first staff handbook 😉

When people come across us they can't believe the volume of what we deliver on a total operating budget of around £100k covering tech, office, marcomms, accounting - basically everything bar our salary roll.

We really have just registered over 1700 new carers in the last three months to place in breaks, and we don't have any facility to dial up what we spend to cater to that.

By investing our limited resources in a strong tech set-up, brand identity and clear policies and processes we've been able to achieve incredible reach and efficiency in the delivery of our work - keeping company with some of the best commercial start-ups out there.

Combined thanks here to Pentagram for their work on our brand, our lead technology partner Impala and our trustees led by Sarah Philbrick for always being by our side on this.

Here's the only pic we've ever taken of us all together!


From left to right: David Myers, Sarine Sofair, Joey Ceunen, Peter Causer, Sarah Philbrick, Jahangir Khan, Charlie Ricketts, James Ricketts and me Charlotte Newman. Shout out to Elizabeth Blewett and Michele Bucceri who couldn't be with us.

What would be game-changing for Carefree?

Foundational funding

We need to know where those next six figures are going to come from to be able to start properly resourcing our operation. The value of what we're delivering to prevent carer breakdown, join-up social sector service delivery and transform millions of pounds worth of gifted accommodation into community assets should not be so regularly overlooked by the world of philanthropy and trust funding.

If scaleable impact is what you're looking to achieve - we're the charity to back!

Operational balance

I think I'll have to give Beyoncé's Lemonade album another listen for lessons on what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but we really have hit the hilt of what a team of 5 people can pull off.

New hires are a major part of what would instantly derisk and build resilience into our organisation, but they are also the key to us reaching our full potential. The infrastructure we've built could easily jump from matching two-hundred carer breaks a month to a thousand, but like any sharing economy platform, a marketplace needs to be manned!

Brand partnerships

It's hard to develop support for a charity no one's heard of! The charity sector is totally lop-sided between the large stalwarts with marketing budgets and the small charities driving social change on the ground. Carers Trust did a brilliant programme with Bloom & Wild this year to raise over £500,000 and get unpaid carers on the map with their customers. We're on the hunt for something equally powerful to propel our growth.

Likewise, it would be amazing to work with a hotel brand. We already have a range of properties carrying the brands of Holiday Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton etc on our breaks hub because their individual owners have donated stays to us but to join forces at the brand level with these groups would open up game-changing growth for Carefree in the UK and beyond!

Thank you for reading, and if you're inspired to play a part in our next five years, please reach out to me at charlotte@carefreespace.org.