Leaders and supporters from across civil society have written to the Prime Minister urgently calling for the creation of an Emergency Support Fund.
The open letter has been signed by sector leaders, including Charity Finance Group, and continues to gather more signatures and support.
The letter comes as charities respond to a growing need for their services while wrestling with an estimated £10bn funding gap caused by the pandemic. Many social change organisations are now spending their reserves, making redundancies and having to scale back or close services.
Michelle O’Rourke, CEO of My Sisters Place, an independent specialist domestic abuse service for women based in Middlesbrough, comments: "We have real concerns about the demands on domestic abuse services following this pandemic and the sector’s ability to keep responding to and meeting the needs of women and children experiencing abuse.
"We can't keep filling gaps and maintaining the work to the level we have been without some investment of resources. It's that longevity - you need to be able to plan as a charity for twelve months and beyond. We would never in a normal year plan for anything that was less than twelve months.
"This is a pandemic and I think charities have adapted, but actually going beyond that it's not sustainable for any charity; definitely not when you're working with vulnerable people."
An Emergency Support Fund would help charities to meet increasing demand #RightNow and ensure they are there for their communities #RightNow and for post-Covid recovery.
CFG's CEO, Caron Bradshaw OBE, comments: "We know that charities and social enterprises play a critical role, not just in responding to the pandemic within their communities, but as part of social causes that can’t wait for the Covid crisis to pass.
"Together, they help to feed the hungry, house the homeless, hold the hands of the dying, find a cure for cancer, preserve our nation’s treasures, and so much more.
"And #RightNow this safety net that is pulled so expertly together by social change organisations is fraying fast. #RightNow our #NeverMoreNeeded sector needs help too."
Below is the full text of the open letter:
Dear Prime Minister
Right now, food banks are giving out 2,600 parcels to children every day.
Right now, helplines are answering thousands of calls from people dealing with everything from domestic abuse to bereavement and mental health issues.
Right now, millions of people around the country are generously responding to fundraising asks from causes they care about.
Right now, volunteers in every community are supporting those shielding at home and over 50,000 are helping to vaccinate those most at risk from COVID.
Right now, millions of people and thousands of charities are doing everything they can to tackle the urgent problems we face. At the same time, those same organisations are looking to the future and trying to ensure they can continue to be there in the tough years of recovery ahead.
They are stepping up because the need has never been greater, but they are doing so while staring at an estimated £10bn hole in their income. Right now, many charities are eating into their reserves, selling whatever assets they have and making staff redundant.
That means tomorrow they won’t be able to fund life-saving research, feed struggling families, bring hope to people most at risk isolating at home, tackle existing inequalities made worse by this pandemic. People and communities will go without vital support.
Charities make our communities stronger. In the toughest times, they provide support no-one else can.
The public are giving their time and money and companies, trusts and foundations have stepped up their support. We are hugely grateful that your government has helped to keep emergency charity services running – but resources are running dangerously low and services are getting stretched to breaking point.
We are asking you to set up an Emergency Support Fund right now, so the burden of this pandemic doesn’t fall on the shoulders of those who are most disadvantaged.
With that fund, more people can receive the help they desperately need, and more charities can deliver vital services to help our communities recover from this crisis. Without it, many in those communities face a bleak future.
View the list of all the signatories.
Quotes from other charity leaders:
“We are hearing #RightNow of so many vital services in our communities that charities are providing, and about the broader contribution that they make to our national life. Yet at the same time many organisations are struggling to find the resources they need to keep this work going at a time when it’s #NeverMoreNeeded. Charitable foundations have stepped up their support but they can’t possibly fill the growing funding gap – only government can act at that scale and must act now.”
Carol Mack OBE
Association of Charitable Foundations
“Tens of thousands of charities are at breaking point, facing a double threat of massive increases in demand for help, and drops in income due to the pandemic. Allowing them to fail will rip support away from our most vulnerable people and communities, leaving them no-one else to turn to.
Charities provide critical services, support schools, underpin the NHS, and are a huge part of every single community in the country. Everybody benefits from the work they do. But more than that, they provide hope, love, and care for the people that need them most, and that has never been more needed than it is now.”
Debra Allcock Tyler
Directory of Social Change
“The Charity Retail Association is delighted to support the #RightNow campaign. During the pandemic charity shops have been mostly unable to operate, costing their parent charities £28million in contribution for every month they have been shut. Government support for shops has been most welcome, but represents only a small proportion of the losses incurred, and we call upon the government to recognise in a concrete way the massive contribution that charities have made, and continue to make, in supporting people through the crisis whilst struggling to maintain their normal levels of service to their clients.”
Charity Retail Association
“Right now, charities and volunteers are critical in helping communities through the covid-19 pandemic. As we approach the one-year marker from the initial lockdown, the voluntary sector is under increasing pressure.
“Almost 50% of charities are expecting an increased demand in their services over the next month. Despite this increasing demand for support, the reality of the national and local lockdowns and subsequent restrictions are causing charities to face a decrease in income. Dwindling financial reserves, redundancies and reductions in services are becoming more commonplace.
“As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, charities and volunteers are at the heart of our communities. It is crucial that government introduce the Emergency Support Fund so that charities can continue to mobilise volunteers and support communities during this difficult time and into the future.”
“Right now, millions of people and thousands of charities are doing everything they can to tackle the urgent problems we face. At the same time, those same organisations are looking to the future and trying to ensure they can continue to be there in the tough years of recovery ahead. We have seen huge generosity from the British public and welcome initial support from the government in April last year. However with the acute phase of the crisis lasting longer than many initially predicted, we are asking the government to step in right now and make sure charities can continue their vital work.”
For more information, case studies and interviews, contact:
Peter Gilheany, 07798 881180 or Emma Abbott, Communications Manager, Charity Finance Group.
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