Charity and voluntary organisations have responded to the urgent needs of people across the country – quickly, effectively and without question.
In Middlesbrough we've seen amazing examples of response to need:
- The Middlesbrough Mutual Aid Facebook set up by Caroline Rowling-Tuffnell and other volunteers to provide support in the immediate aftermath of lockdown, linking people offering help with those who needed it.
- The Sewing Scrubs for James Cook University Hospital Facebook group made thousands of scrubs and facemask for the hospital and for local Voluntary and Community Sector organisations, which were able to help distribute.
- There are some great examples of people getting food to people during lockdown: Bin Araia from Investing in People and Culture helped get regular food to refugees and people seeking asylum; Locardia Chidanyika from Women Today acquired some funding from the National Emergencies Trust to make up food parcels for Middlesbrough families.
- Hemlington Linx ran some amazing online sessions for young people on YouTube:
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.
The #NeverMoreNeeded Campaign
The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign is a broad coalition of voluntary organisations who have come together to help us all inform and inspire the politicians, policymakers, decision-makers and supporters that we need on our side. They've launched a website and campaign pack to make it easier for you to share the fantastic work charities and voluntary groups do.
The pack contains template letters, great copy that you can just paste into your existing communications, and a whole host of critical facts and figures to help tell the story of how now, more than ever, charities are #NeverMoreNeeded.
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.
Charities are facing their own crisis
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.
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.
Community Action and Development Officer at MVDA.