Demand for charities’ services has dramatically increased because of the economic and social impact of Covid-19. Food and other essentials, as well as support for people facing mental health issues, debt, and homelessness are all areas where need is increasing. As the economy continues to contract, unemployment rises and welfare support returns to pre-crisis levels, this trend is set to continue.
The March 2021 budget should give further clarity on what support may be available for poorer households. In the longer term, the Government will face the choice of a combination of spending cuts and tax rises to pay for Covid-19 borrowing. NCVO comments that as we have seen in recent years, public sector cuts and failure to increase spending would have a significant impact on charities.
For charities themselves, a year of social distancing has impacted on funding streams, particularly trading and community fundraising, meaning many start the year with dwindling reserves. Job losses and closures, already a feature of the sector, are set to continue. Many charities are facing a cliff-edge as emergency Covid-19 funding finishes at the end of March. These facts are reflected in the North Yorkshire VCSE Resilience report, made public towards the end of last year and available here.
As we navigate the worst impacts of the outbreak, people across the country are relying on the work of charities, the essential support they provide and how they shape our society for the better. We’ll all continue to rely on the expertise and experience of our charity and voluntary groups in the recovery effort that lies ahead.
There has been much talk during the pandemic about recovery, renewal and the sort of society we want to build post-Covid-19. The critical role of civil society in this endeavour cannot be underestimated. Beyond the pandemic charities and volunteers have an important part to play on issues ranging from devolution to climate change. Yet, at a time when the sector has never been more needed in terms of supporting people and communities, it has never experienced greater challenges in terms of reduced income.
#RightNow is a campaign by #nevermoreneeded and is your opportunity to join other charity supporters and send a public message to government that charities urgently need an Emergency Support Fund so they can provide vital support to our communities and causes.
Our Chief Executive Leah Swain was one of the first to sign the letter, a copy of which is below.
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.
You can sign the letter here
If you are a charity based in North Yorkshire and need support with developing your organisation, including help with funding, governance, employment advice, recruiting and supporting volunteers, contact our Community Support North Yorkshire team for a wealth of support and advice.