It was great to see the Chancellor Rishi Sunak talk on Tuesday about doing ‘whatever it takes’ to get businesses through these very uncertain times. Thousands rely on them for a livelihood and support is both necessary and welcome. But here we are on Thursday and still no word on charities.
No mention of the thousands of charities and community groups supporting our most vulnerable citizens at this time of crisis. And who face a very real threat to their existence as communities go into shutdown.
The befriending service connecting lonely and isolated older people.
The homeless shelter.
The women’s refuge keeping victims of domestic violence safe.
The drug and alcohol rehabilitation service.
The food bank.
The breakfast club.
The youth club.
This is a national crisis as well as a local one.
The charity supporting victims of trafficking.
The one doing pioneering research for find cures for cancer.
The one improving mental health.
When this virus is over we will need them all more than ever. But many won’t be here.
In my world of children’s palliative care, the voluntary sector is the backbone of support outside hospital. Including the UK’s 54 incredible children’s hospices, condition specific charities and those providing invaluable social care at home like the excellent Rainbow Trust.
All are currently stepping up to divert resources to help the most vulnerable families. They rely on the sort of community support and trading for cash flow which will fall through the floor as a consequence of Coronavirus.
And they need action now.
This is about cash flow and sustainability until we can get fundraising back on its feet. Others with bigger brains than mine have set out ideas for how this support could work. And we are indebted to people like Karl Wilding at NCVO and Vicky Browning at ACEVO (and others) for making the case.
Together for Short Lives is supporting our partners in the sector, providing advice to families and services and working with our friends at Hospice UK to o offer help and influence.
But if we want these local services to be there when we are through this crisis, then we need the Government to take action today.
Andrew Fletcher is CEO of Together for Short Lives.
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