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Warning of ‘dire future’ facing charities in the wake of pandemic

By ellie pipe, Friday Jul 10, 2020

Charities are facing a perfect storm as demand increases but money is running out, warn city leaders who are calling for urgent support.

In a letter to baroness Diana Barran, the parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), they are urging the Government to back recovery plans for the West, which would see an extra £30m invested in the third sector over the next five years.

The call comes as the latest research soon to be published by the Care Forum reveals one in five charities in the region will be forced to cut services in the coming months and 20 per cent have said they are uncertain what the futures holds.

The letter, signed by more than 40 leaders of public, private and third sector organisations including mayor Marvin Rees, highlights the vital role charities and grassroots groups have played throughout the coronavirus crisis and states “there can be no economic recovery without social recovery”.

Sado Jirde says the voluntary sector is bracing itself for tough challenges – photo by Ellie Pipe

“As the voluntary and community organisations emerge from this crisis, we are all bracing ourselves for even tougher challenges ahead,” says Sado Jirde, director of Black South West Network and one of the signatories.

“Black-led organisations in particular know about hardship, but the pain from Covid-19 takes both demands on services and financial crisis to new heights. We support the calls for resources and hope the DCMS will heed this cry as, despite Government measures in the Mini-Budget 2020, people are still falling through the net across our communities.”

Since the start of the crisis, Quartet Community Foundation has raised £1.44m for coronavirus response and has given £878,000 in grants to 189 small local organisations.

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Read more: The grassroots group taking on a citywide challenge

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The letter asks for £30m from the Government to support a five-year recovery plan. This comprises a £10m stabilisation fund with rapid response grants, £10m sector support fund for vital community hubs and organisations, £6m for addressing inequalities and £4m to support local action and social cohesion.

Grassroots organisations across the city have mobilised to provide support for those in need throughout the crisis – photo courtesy of Bristol Somali Voice

Sue Turner, the chief executive of Quartet Community Foundation, says: “It’s amazing that 80 per cent of local charities kept going through the crisis but many of them are now running out of money.

“They responded when our country urgently needed them to coordinate volunteers, deliver emergency supplies and support people in financial trouble throughout lockdown.

“The demand for their services is still enormous. They’re now needed in the first phase of recovery to support those affected by bereavement, mental health issues, domestic abuse and food poverty.  But their income from fundraising and trading has been slashed.

“If charities don’t get financial support now they won’t be here to help our most disadvantaged people through the tough days ahead. This would be dire for the people who rely on them.

“Leaders from all parts of the West of England are calling on the Government to back the four-point plan to stabilise the charity sector and put extra support into the communities that need it most.

“It will cost £30m to carry out this plan over the next five years.  We’ve raised over £1.4m for coronavirus response and there’s a further £1.8m already identified for recovery phase work. We know the generosity of people here will raise yet more but we’re asking the Government to do their bit too.”

James Durie, the chief executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative at Business West, added his support, saying help for the third sector is “essential at this time of great national challenge”.

Main photo by James Koch

Read more: How coronavirus outbreak is affecting Bristol’s charities

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