With the government advice forcing non-essential businesses to close, many of those small and medium businesses are able to access financial support. But how are charities getting by without fundraising events and open shops? We took a look at a few of them to find out.
Every year, diaries fill with dates for the various fundraising events that take place around the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch areas. From food and drink to fun runs and stage shows, local charities go to great lengths to entertain and amuse, hoping that along the way, they’ll be raising much needed funds to enable the vital work of the charity to continue.
Then coronavirus hit our shores. In its wake, countless planned events have been cancelled or postponed and while some of these charities have few overheads and are able to reschedule for later dates, others – especially those who have shops in town centres – must find the money to fund activities with income from fund-raising much reduced.
Panic-buying hits food banks where it hurts
While panic-buyers stockpiled shelves of pasta and rice, local food banks found themselves struggling to meet even their usual demand. Food donation bins were left bare, preventing the charities that run them from being able to help as many of the families who rely on them as they are normally.
We spoke to a number of local food banks to discuss the impact in more detail, all of whom have been affected by a lack of donations. One of them, Bournemouth Foodbank, said: “We were seeing a large increase in numbers [of people needing the service]last week and our stocks are depleting rapidly. We haven’t been able as yet to bulk buy these items, which means in the future that we won’t be able to make up full parcels. Our generous donors have also not been able to purchase items to donate in our collection points in store.”
Faithworks, which carries out charitable work across Dorset and provides food to those in need, primarily in the BCP area, is experiencing the same problems. Requests for donations have doubled in the last week alone. As the absolute last resort for those who have no money, no income and no other support, these foodbanks provide a crucial service for people desperately in need, and are struggling to meet the rising demand.
An uncertain future
Local cancer support charity, Dorset Cancer Care Foundation has been ‘devastated’ by the virus. In a recent statement, chairman Chris Thomas said: “Our life’s blood is fundraising. But we are already looking at the majority of our events this spring and summer being either cancelled or postponed and frankly it’s a terrifying prospect.”
His concern is understandable. The organisation was forced to cancel its main fundraising event, it’s annual ball, which was due to take place in June, as well as its monthly coffee mornings and other events that were scheduled for the preceding months. While the nation waits impatiently for the results of the lockdown on the spread of the disease, many of their events, as well as those of other charities, are stuck in limbo, their future undecided for now.
Government support may be in sight
Labour MP for Cardiff and Penarth Stephen Doughty, is working to secure government support for charities in the same way it has supported businesses. He has produced a letter, addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, which stresses that “without an immediate injection of money, many charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises of all sizes will soon close. Funds are running out,” adding that “the NCVO predicts there will be a loss in the sector of £4.3bn in income over the coming 12 weeks. The figure could be far higher.”
The letter petitions the Chancellor to make changes that include setting up a fund for affected organisations, providing immediate funding to those charities working to support the healthcare system, in particular, and providing a guarantee that the organisations are covered by the business interruption measures the government formalised last week.
You can read the full letter, along with a list of the many MPs and Lord who have signed it, on Stephen Doughty’s Twitter.
What you can do to help
Keep in mind when you do your emergency shop that there are families out there who need support just as much as your own family, and that leaving at least one item in a food bank collection point could make all the difference to a family or homeless person who has nothing.
You can also support a large number of charities when you shop online. Using Amazon Smile instead of Amazon’s main website allows you to select a charity from their list who will receive a donation for each purchase you make. Any registered charity can sign up for donations through Amazon Smile so search for your charity of choice and let your spending do some good work in your name.