Charity and voluntary organisations have responded to the urgent needs of people across the country – quickly, effectively and without question.
Putting everything in to helping their communities, they have put their own survival on the line. With little chance to fundraise, a loss of income from trading and providing services, and – most of all – much greater demand, many charities are now in real danger of having to close completely.
But the immediate response to coronavirus is only the start. People across the country know that charities are #NeverMoreNeeded than now, and for the foreseeable future.
What we do and how we allocate resources will only be effective if we include the people, problems and places that are often overlooked.
The work charities do – and their relationships with communities – shows the need to strive to meet everyone’s needs and rights, right now and during the recovery.
In early 2020, life as we knew it in the UK changed suddenly and dramatically.
As the number of coronavirus cases grew rapidly, it became clear that charities and voluntary organisations would be needed to play a key role in the response to the virus.
By the end of March 2020, the country was closed down.
- Over 1,500,000 people had been identified as extremely vulnerable, and advised to stay at home, with almost no outside contact, for at least 8 weeks.
- Over 8 million people had been furloughed from work and countless others had switched to working from home, to reduce contact between households and the transmission of the virus. Factories, offices, construction sites – numerous workplaces were closed.
- Shops were shuttered, except for those selling essential supplies such as food. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare. Charity shops closed to protect more vulnerable volunteers.
- Pubs, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and sport centres closed. Community centres, support groups and social groups had to do the same.
- And people were dying in their thousands.
The speed and extent of the lockdown were felt across our communities.
And charities responded, at a time when they were #NeverMoreNeeded
- Organising and distributing food
- Collecting prescriptions
- Providing transport to medical appointments
- Combating loneliness
- Providing support to people affected by mental health, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, illness or life-long conditions
- Working to find safe places to stay for people sleeping rough
- Finding safe places for people (and their children) desperate to escape domestic abuse
The list is endless.
At the same time, charities were facing their own crisis. Fundraising events, from cake sales to the London Marathon, were cancelled or postponed. Charity shops were closed. Charities which generated their own income through hiring out rooms, running community cafes or delivering training could no longer do so. Contracts to deliver care and support services to some of our more vulnerable people had to stop. In many cases, some or all members of staff had to be placed on furlough, and volunteers could not always fill the gaps.
Overnight, charities were facing a loss in income of £4.3 billion in just 12 weeks – yet at the same time, more and more people needed their support and care.