Campaign Begins For Support For Charity Sector As Many Fear Organisation Will Fall Through The Cracks.
In Northern Ireland, a campaign has been started by a group of concerned charities, chambers of commerce, Social Enterprise NI and Enterprise NI, and other and social enterprises fearing that many will fall through the cracks in the provision that the government is setting up.
A letter has been sent to NI Assembly Ministers calling for swift action to ease cash flow crises in the sector.
And in the Commons, over 300 MP’s have already supported a letter sent to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rashid Sunik calling for support to the charity sector.
Many charities could play a vital role in supporting the fight against Covid-19 and maintaining the health of the population and supporting vulnerable families. They could also take some of the pressures from off the NHS.
In a 12-week period it is estimated that the charity sector will have lost £4.3 billion across the UK causing insurmountable cash flow problems for many charities. For many charities this will mean letting staff go or putting them on furlough, and for some possibly closure.
Cancer Focus NI Furloughs Staff Due To Covid-19 Crisis.
A leading local health charity, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, will furlough the majority of its staff as it faces an 80% decrease in fundraised income this year.
Only externally funded staff are among those left able to work. This allows provision only of its Family Support service, a reduced counselling service, stop smoking support and skin cancer prevention work.
Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus NI said: “Cancer Focus NI is 90% dependent on our fundraising activities. With fundraising events unable to take place and our 13 charity shops closed, income for the charity has reduced to seriously low levels.
“In order to best ensure the charity’s survival we have had no choice but to cease all work that is not externally funded, and furlough our remaining employees.
“Many of our staff have said they are more than happy to continue to provide services while furloughed, but the government’s job retention scheme expressly forbids this. It’s regrettable that the scheme will pay people not to provide services that patients need so much.”
The charity’s patient support services have been particularly badly affected with 75% of services being cut. These include its nurse-led telephone help line, art therapy, volunteer driving and bra fitting services.
Roisin added: “Cancer patients are already under great stress, worried about treatment being delayed or cancelled for very understandable reasons. We are deeply concerned that we have no option but to reduce services when people need it most. And the lack of support services throws even greater pressure back on the NHS.
“We’re urging the government to finalise a support package for the voluntary sector as soon as possible, so we can plan for how we’re going to come out the other end of this crisis and continue our vital work.”